49ers' George Kittle: Trey Lance 'Has an Insane Ceiling' amid Garoppolo Trade Buzz

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 25, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11: George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers speaks during an interview on day 3 of SiriusXM At Super Bowl LVI on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM )
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM

George Kittle has seen Trey Lance in practice. He's seen him in a few games. 

Now that Lance is preparing to take the reins in 2022, Kittle is gushing about the young quarterback's potential. 

"Trey has an insane ceiling. Just needs some reps here and there. Just gotta throw the ball a little bit more," Kittle said on the I Am An Athlete podcast (8:40 mark). "You can't really get better without playing games. ... Just playing, going against competition, getting hit and getting back up. Dealing with adversity, how do you deal with it? Guys that come to the league that win their entire life, and they get in the NFL and get hit in the face a couple times, it's different."

Lance is expected to take over as the 49ers' starting quarterback in 2022 after essentially redshirting his rookie season. He threw for 603 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions while adding 168 yards and a touchdown on the ground. While there were flashes of the talent that made him the No. 3 pick in last April's draft, Lance struggled with accuracy (57.7 completion percentage) and often tried fitting balls into too-tight windows.

Jimmy Garoppolo served as the starter in 2021 and remains on the roster. The 49ers have explored trading him, but offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder has led to a tepid market. Kittle praised Garoppolo's professionalism in handling the awkward situation last season and said Lance was lucky to get a year behind the veteran. 

"I think Jimmy was a fantastic person for Trey to learn under. ... the year Trey spent under him was very beneficial," Kittle said.

Even if Garoppolo is on the roster next season, Lance's time is now. The 49ers traded three first-round picks to move up and take him; it's time to strike while the iron is hot on his rookie contract and the team can bolster the roster around Lance. 

That said, Lance's contract also makes it possible Garoppolo sticks around as the NFL's highest-paid backup.