In today’s links, you’ll read about the best offensive player the 49ers will face each week during this upcoming season, why Trey Lance is ready to start right away, some comments on Lance from John Lynch, more Julio talk, and how injuries affected this year’s draft.
Week 1 | Detroit Lions, C Frank Ragnow
The Lions’ offensive skill position players are a relatively unproven group, and quarterback Jared Goff isn’t striking fear into many defenses. Ragnow, a 1st-round pick in 2018, has become an excellent center and landed on the Pro Bowl last season. San Francisco’s defensive interior will get a very good test early on with Ragnow spearheading a pretty good offensive line.
Week 2 | Philadelphia Eagles, C Jason Kelce
The Eagles offensively have an issue similar to Detroit’s in that their skill position players aren’t great and their quarterback isn’t elite. QB Jalen Hurts may get there one day, and No. 10 overall pick DeVonta Smith should bolster their receiving corps. Kelce is a three-time First-Team All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler. While the rest of the Eagles defensive front has struggled to keep their quarterback upright, Kelce is another tough interior matchup for the 49ers’ defensive line.
“It’s been too long since he’s played” is overblown and flawed.
Many point out Trey Lance’s extended time without having played a game as a cause for concern. It’s often a reason some consider him a “raw” prospect with far less snaps under center than his quarterback counterparts. Some feel this to be a good reason to have him sit a year behind Jimmy Garoppolo. That way, he could adjust to quarterbacking in the NFL and learn the intricacies of the playbook before taking a snap as a 49er.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a poor practice QB
On paper, Jimmy Garoppolo has the advantage of time and experience as a starter in Kyle Shanahan’s system. When healthy, he has been able to execute this offense at a high level.
The only disadvantage Garoppolo might have is that historically, he has not always been great in practice. This in itself isn’t a huge deal. Most have given Garoppolo the benefit of the doubt. He’s going against a top ranked defense in practice who any QB would struggle against. He may just like to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t in a practice setting instead of a real game. He’ll also be returning from a high ankle sprain injury that kept him out most of the 2020 season. It’s likely we see Garoppolo work through some rust during camp and even the preseason.
“And Trey is equipped very well,” Lynch continued. “It’s part of the thing that drew us toward him both in talent and really the spirit of his makeup. His makeup, I think, is tremendous for that position. He’s smart. He’s a great leader. He pulls the best out of people around him. So we believe that will come.
“But the nice luxury that we have is we don’t have to rush it. He can play when he’s ready to give us the best chance, and that will be on Kyle. I think it will be fairly obvious when the time’s right, and I think, at that time, he’ll be our guy.”
49ers likely won’t have NFL Draft capital to offer for Jones’ services
At 32 years old, Jones isn’t necessarily pegged to be a long-term investment. And the fact hamstring injuries limited him to just nine games last year suggests his open value on the trade market could be slightly less than it otherwise might have been in previous years.
But considering the mass increase of injuries around the league in a COVID-altered season last year, Jones’ overall track record of staying healthy and productive has to be taken into consideration.
The Niners already surrendered their first-round picks — one in 2022 and another in 2023 — along with next year’s compensatory Round 3 selection, to the Miami Dolphins to move up to No. 3 overall in this year’s draft to select Lance.
“We did tangibly change some things, like our grading process,” Lynch said, via ESPN. “Not what the doctors are telling us, but how it’s delivered just to make it clear. Like, ‘OK, is this grade with a high risk or low risk?’ Just really clarifying that, and I think that was a positive step because it made probably easier. Like we’re not touching these guys, the ones that were really bad.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he wanted to avoid players with a history of injuries.
“So, we’re not saying that we’ll never take a risk again or anything, but we definitely wanted to make a point because of what’s happened the last couple of years, at least to try to avoid that,” Shanahan said.
Avoiding injuries could be the most important factor for the 49ers getting back to the playoffs.