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Kyle Shanahan: 'Very Hard' for Trey Lance to Beat Jimmy Garoppolo to Start

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan looks on against the New York Jets during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan appears comfortable heading into next season with Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback. 

Speaking on ESPN (h/t Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith) during Day 1 of the NFL draft on Thursday night, Shanahan said it will be "very hard" for No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance to beat Garoppolo on the depth chart in 2021. 

"That's why I like the situation that we are in," Shanahan added. "Now, we'll see where Trey's at. We'll see how he does at OTAs. I love that we're getting those. I love that he's going to be here tomorrow. But Jimmy's our quarterback right now."

Based on the past month of news and rumors involving what San Francisco was thinking with the No. 3 pick, it's fair to question Shanahan's stance on anything he says. 

In Shanahan's defense, he did state that Garoppolo is the 49ers quarterback "right now." 

Lance is perhaps the biggest wild card of the five quarterbacks selected on Thursday. His 318 pass attempts at North Dakota State are the fewest by any first-round quarterback in the past 40 years, per ESPN Stats & Info

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One argument for the 49ers to play Lance as a rookie is reps. The 20-year-old only played one game in 2020 before the FCS season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He went 15-of-30 for 149 yards with two touchdowns and one interception through the air with 143 yards and two rushing touchdowns in a 39-28 win over Central Arkansas. 

If Lance sits for most or all of the 2021 season, he will basically be going two years without playing. It's not impossible for a quarterback to succeed with that much time between games, but the list basically starts and ends with Aaron Rodgers when he sat behind Brett Favre for three years from 2005-07. 

Assuming Garoppolo remains on San Francisco's roster, he does provide Shanahan with a safety net while Lance develops. The 29-year-old threw for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and completed 69.1 percent of his passes in 2019 to help the 49ers win the NFC West and reach the Super Bowl. 

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