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PFF ranks 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo as the 22nd best starter in the league

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

You’re going to hear and read a lot about how 49ers QB Trey Lance is ready to start earlier than many people expect, as his coaches have been saying that’s the case. Lance was taken No. 3 overall as the Niners believe he’s a special talent.

Combine Lance’s skill set with what appears to be the type of character that wins in the NFL, and it’s easy to see why San Francisco and the rest of the league are high on the rookie from North Dakota State.

Jimmy Garoppolo will start Week 1. If Jimmy G isn’t starting, then I have some questions about the 49ers' decision-makers. A guy who has been in Kyle Shanahan’s system heading into his fifth year with the team and who has played as much as Garoppolo shouldn’t lose a QB competition — at least during training camp.

Lance will play when he’s ready, but it’d be a shock if Jimmy didn’t start. PFF analyst and former NFL QB Bruce Gradkowski ranked every quarterback in the NFL. Gradkowski ranked Garoppolo 22nd, below the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Daniel Jones, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a couple of other names that you may disagree with.

Here is Gradkowski’s blurb:


Injuries have become the story for Garoppolo, as he has started less than 50% of the 49ers’ games since the beginning of the 2018 season. He did manage to lead the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance the year he came back from his torn ACL. Things are different now, as he has Trey Lance waiting in the wings in case he is either injured or shows a stretch of inconsistency.

Garoppolo has shown he’s capable of executing Shanahan’s offense at a high level, but he tends to make a few questionable decisions or throws per game. Lance did a phenomenal job of protecting the football in college. It will be interesting to see how this plays out — expect Garoppolo to have a good year even under such pressure.

For me, a fascinating storyline is if Garoppolo plays well, but Lance does too in the limited packages Shanahan has for him. If that happens, what’s next?

On the one hand, the goal is to win it all. If Jimmy gives you the best chance, then you leave him on the field. On the other hand, you invested a whole heck of a lot into your No. 3 overall pick. Lance is the future, and if it’s close, don’t you roll with the rookie? Especially since you can save north of $20 million in cap space — knowing that money rolls over.

Jimmy and Trey both hold the keys in this situation. If Lance brings enough to the table, he’ll play. If Garoppolo protects the ball and stays healthy, he’ll stay on the field.

Where would you rank Jimmy G?