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Trey Lance.....MVP?

Kyle Snow has a few props he wants to discuss as well as Shanahan’s innovation

San Francisco 49ers Off-Season Workout Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Kyle Snow is back with another article, and this time he’s talking about a couple of wild prop bets for this upcoming season. He’ll mention Trey Lance and discuss the last time a rookie has won the MVP, Kyle Shanahan and innovation, why running QBs are valued when Lance will start, and more.


It’s Wild Prop Bet Season. Who ya got?

I’m taking Trey Lance at +30000 to win MVP! Disclaimer: I do not recommend you actually make this bet. This article is for entertainment purposes only.

I saw these odds on June 13th from BetMGM and thought it was pretty tempting, so let’s go ahead and break this thing down.

When was the last time a rookie won MVP?

Jim Brown was the last rookie to win the MVP, and he did so in 1957…Okay, this isn’t a good start.

Does a QB win every year?

The Last 10 winners were as follows:

There is so much information in the chart above that should be jumping out.

First of all, A QB has won in 9 out of the past ten years. That means if Lance starts (I’ll get to that later), he’s competing with 32 guys, and that’s without eliminating Drew Lock from the field. It feels like the receivers can do more every season, so we may finally get a receiver MVP in 2021, but it’s worth noting that in 2012, Calvin Johnson broke the single-season receiving record and still didn’t win MVP. There are fewer 3-down backs every year, but there is a slight chance Derrick Henry or Dalvin Cook could do something special and win it.

The list above looks like the “Who’s Who” of future Hall of Famers and candidates for Greatest of All Time consideration, with one exception…Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan is good, but he usually isn’t in conversation with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady for the best ever. In 2016 he had a monster year when he had Kyle Shanahan as an Offensive Co-Ordinator, good receiving backs in Freeman and Coleman, and elite receivers in Julio Jones and Sanu. Are there any similarities between the 2021 Niners and the 2016 Falcons? Maybe there is no high-end Receiver like Jones, but Kittle is a top Tight End, Aiyuk and Samuel are both top 20 receivers, and if Raheem Mostert doesn’t turn a 4-yard catch into a 60-yard touchdown this year, I’d be shocked. The fact is that if Trey Lance starts, he will have great stats regardless of his play because he has a great supporting cast and the second-most innovative coach in the game.

Second-most innovative?

People give Andy Reid a lot of credit in this area and other coaches who frequently go after the deep ball. The principle is simple, throwing is more effective than running, big plays are directly linked with winning, and with the way the NFL is going, you are more likely to get a penalty to go your way when throwing down the field. The trouble is, when you don’t complete the long bomb, you’re sitting at second or third and long, with a low chance of getting a new set of downs. Kyle Shanahan has addressed this problem by still going for big plays but using a lower average depth of the target to generate them. He wants his receivers, running backs, and tight ends, to catch easy balls for moderate gains in a one-on-one match-up. Then if his athlete, like Deebo Samuel, can break a tackle, he can break off a big play. If he doesn’t break the tackle, you look at second and five instead of second and 10.

I know I’m going to get roasted for this one, but the most innovative coach, at least in 2019, was John Harbaugh. In 2019, the Ravens went 17 for 24 on 4th down attempts (Difficult to get a source for this, but if you watched the 2019 season, you know what I’m talking about). I know Belichick normalized it, but 17 conversions on 4th down were incredible. He was able to do this because defensive players had to make a decision; were they going to cover the pass (especially the TE), the running back, or was Lamar going to run it himself? If you get a new set of downs instead of handing the other team the ball 17 times, it can be season-changing. Imagine if Shanahan could incorporate this element along with his already lethal playbook. Don’t forget, with the YAC Bros and Try Lance, these completions won’t necessarily go 1 yard past the sticks either.

Running QBs are Valued

Speaking of Lamar Jackson, running QBs are valued in the MVP race. Cam Newton won in 2015, and Lamar won in 2019. Lance isn’t as powerful as Cam, so he probably won’t have ten rushing TDs. Lance gets very few comparisons to Jackson. That might be because Jackson has such a unique running style, and he can cut teams up like nobody I’ve seen before. But even without being Lamar or Cam, if Lance could get 800 – 1000 rushing yards, he could get included in the MVP conversation. Do you really think it’s that unlikely for him to get 800 rushing yards? That’s only 47 yards per game with a 17 game season.

As far as passing is concerned, even the last time Tom Brady won, it was with 4577 passing yards with no rushing to speak of. In 2020, the trio of Quarterbacks for the 49ers posted 4320 yards, with Nick Mullins playing in 10 games.

Now it’s important to note that both players had very few Interceptions. In fact, a low interception rate seems to be a pre-qualifier as nobody has won the award with more than 12 interceptions in the past ten years. As a complete side note, Jameis Winston had MVP-type numbers in 2019, if it hadn’t been for the 30 Interceptions. That’s fascinated me for the past few years. Trey Lance looks great in this respect, as he only threw one INT in his extremely short college career.

Who is his Competition?

Like I said before, almost any Quarterback in the league has a chance. You may have noticed Aaron Rodgers’ name on the list three times, and while there is some hope that he could regress this year without an offseason, I’m not going to pretend that he isn’t a favorite. There is also Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and you can never count out Tom Brady. Deshawn Watson may not be able to play this year, and I doubt the NFL wants him to be the face of the league. An outsider with a real chance could be Ryan Tannehill, especially since they signed Julio.

Will he start?

That’s not really the question. The question is will he start in week 1? No player has won the MVP with fewer than 15 Games Started in the past ten years. I’ve heard that the Niners want to sit him for a year (after just sitting a year), I’ve heard he is a shoo-in starter, I’ve heard that they will have an open QB competition, so I don’t know what to believe. Right now, I give him a 25% chance to beat out Jimmy in training camp and outright take his job. However, there is also a 25% chance (and that’s being kind) that Garoppolo injures himself playing Madden in the offseason, giving Lance a 50% chance of starting week 1.

Bottom Line

If Trey Lance starts, I will put him as a top 10 candidate for MVP. Right now on Draft Kings, the 10th in line is Justin Herbert at +2500. I give Lance a 50% chance of starting the season, so I think a suitable valve for him would be somewhere between +5000 and +10000, so if I can get better than this, which I can, I’ll probably put down a flyer just for fun. Then all summer, I can dream about my $100 becoming $30,000.

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