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Fred Warner: Trey Lance 'Ready' to Lead 49ers amid Jimmy Garoppolo Trade Rumors

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 19, 2022

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner has no doubt that second-year quarterback Trey Lance is ready to be the man in 2022.

Appearing Monday on the Rich Eisen Show (h/t NFL.com's Kevin Patra), Warner praised Lance and explained why he thinks the 2021 No. 3 overall draft pick is up to the challenge of becoming the Niners' starting signal-caller (beginning at the 1:50 mark):

"I continue to say, man, how much I've admired the way Trey has taken on just all the criticism, all I guess you could say all the pressure people are trying to put on him. He's been super professional about it, especially with how young he is. [He's] very mature for his age.

"And so, just the things that you see from him and the small things that everybody else outside of the building sees from him, that should give you a good sense of like the maturity for such a young player, and if given the reins, the way that he would handle it. I can continue to sit here and tell you how great of a person and player that he is. I've already spoken on that. But whatever it may be, I know that he is, for sure, if given the reins, that he's ready for it. He's very professional and mature and ready for whatever he is given."

Lance is expected to be the starter when the upcoming 2022 regular season commences, as veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been the constant subject of trade rumors.

Jimmy G has been the 49ers' primary starter for parts of the past five seasons, leading them to the Super Bowl in 2019 and to the NFC Championship Game last season.

Garoppolo missed all but three games in 2018 and all but six games in 2020 due to injury, however, prompting the Niners to move up in the draft and select Lance third overall in 2021 out of North Dakota State.

Lance's arrival seemingly spelled the end for Jimmy G, although he took the 49ers further than anyone expected last season, complicating matters.

Garoppolo has been a proven winner during his NFL career, going 33-14 as a starter and winning two Super Bowls as the New England Patriots' backup to Tom Brady, but he has never put up eye-popping numbers.

Last season, Garoppolo threw for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 regular-season games and had just 535 yards, two touchdowns and three picks in three playoff games.

Jimmy G is more of a caretaker and game manager than a quarterback who can win games on his own, which explains why the 49ers took a big swing by drafting Lance.

Lance is one of the most electric talents in the NFL, and he showed off his special skill set at the collegiate level, although he only started for one year and played in the FCS.

Still, that year was a spectacular one, as he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 scores for an NDSU team that went undefeated in 2019.

Last season, Lance appeared in six games and made two starts in place of the injured Garoppolo, going 1-1 in those games. He completed 57.7 percent of his passing attempts for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, plus he rushed for 168 yards and one touchdown.

Due to his huge arm and ability to make plays with his legs, Lance adds an entirely new dimension to the San Francisco offense that Garoppolo has never been able to provide.

Given head coach Kyle Shanahan's creativity as a play-caller, Lance is seemingly the perfect fit for him under center, especially if the 49ers find a way to keep versatile and multi-faceted wide receiver Deebo Samuel despite his trade request.

There may be some growing pains under Lance due to his lack of experience playing against top-level competition, but few quarterbacks in the league have as high of a ceiling as the 22-year-old does.

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