49ers' Trey Lance 'Thankful' for Jimmy Garoppolo: 'One of My Best Friends'

Erin WalshJanuary 31, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CA - JANUARY 09: San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) hugs San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Trey Lance (5) before the NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams on January 9, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers could turn to 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance next season after he spent a year as a backup to Jimmy Garoppolo. And while things aren't set in stone, Lance told reporters Monday he is thankful to have spent time learning under the veteran signal-caller. 

"He's going to be one of my best friends for my whole entire life. ... I'm just thankful for the opportunity to have him be in front of me," Lance said. 

Lance's comments shouldn't come as a surprise. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said in early January that Lance and Garoppolo had mutual respect, which only helped the rookie's development. 

“I think the most important thing is that neither of them really have to try to do anything,” Shanahan said, per Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area. “They are both themselves to each other. I think it helps that they both genuinely like each other, respect each other and they are two good guys.” 

Lance has also talked about Garoppolo's continued support in the past, saying the veteran has been one of the best teammates he has ever had:

Yeah, I've said a million times, Jimmy is one of the best teammates and leaders I've ever been around. So for me to have him, I know he's got my back on the sideline, whether good play or bad. He's the first one that is talking to me and making sure that we're seeing things the same way. So it's a huge help to me. Huge confidence booster, just that I know that he's another guy that's got my back.

It's nice to know that Garoppolo served as a true mentor for Lance, and we'll probably find out if the veteran's lessons for the rookie paid off in 2022.

The 49ers are expected to trade Garoppolo this offseason after his limitations were on full display in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. He completed just 16 of 30 passes for 233 yards, two touchdowns and an interception as San Francisco's offense struggled. It became more clear that he can't be team's quarterback of the future. 

Garoppolo has been considered a trade candidate over the past two seasons and, according to ESPN's Seth Wickersham, the 49ers turned down an offer of a second-round pick from the New England Patriots last offseason for the 30-year-old in hopes of increasing his trade value. 

Some believe Garoppolo did increase his trade value this season, having thrown for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. However, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler recently reported some teams believe he won't command a first-round pick because he's heading into the final year of his contract and would need a restructured deal as part of any move.

Despite that, Garoppolo should have a hot trade market. The Carolina Panthers, Washington Football Team, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers could all be looking for new quarterbacks this offseason, though it's unclear if they have any interest in Garoppolo.