49ers general manager John Lynch joined the Murph & Mac show on KNBR Friday and discussed the starting quarterback competition. Lynch was clear about who is making this decision when asked who is starting Week 1:
“That’s up to Kyle [Shanahan]. That’s up to our head coach. He makes the decisions on who’s playing and what not. But I think it’s Jimmy’s right now and Trey’s pushing. I think that’s where it’s at.”
That’s a good way to describe what’s transpired at Niners training camp through two weeks. Jimmy Garoppolo came in ahead and remained ahead. That was expected as Trey Lance was transitioning from the FCS, and Jimmy G had a few years under his belt in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Two things can be true: First, Lance has come a long way since OTAs. Second, Lance has a long way to go to supplant Garoppolo as the starter.
The biggest difference between the two comes up when the offense starts to move the ball. Garoppolo is more comfortable, knows where everyone is, understands the play-clock, and all of the parts of playing quarterback that 21-year-old’s don’t possess in August.
What’s been the most promising thing for Lance is that his head isn’t spinning when he’s out there. You don’t hear reports as you are out of Jets camp where the rookie QB is holding the ball too long or that he’s making the same mistakes in practice daily.
How will that translate to a game? Does Lance continue to progress and gain ground on Garoppolo? Will he receive more and more reps with the starters now that practice is closed off? These are questions we have to ask if Lance plans on seeing the field sooner than later.
Here’s Lynch on the radio talking about how awesome Lance has been:
“Everybody wanted to know, ‘Tell me about this kid.’ He’s been awesome. He’s been everything we thought he would be and more. He was good from day one when he walked in here in the offseason, and I think a testament to what we thought he was and his work ethic.
You could tell right away when Trey got back here, he had been working, and it was evident in the way he was calling plays and the way he was processing. There were some mechanical things in his fundamentals that Kyle and the group had asked him to work on, and he went and did that.
That’s what we thought we were getting, and the early returns are really good. And he’s got a good way about him. His teammates really respect him. He and Jimmy have had an incredible working environment together where, yes, it’s a competition, but they’re both really good to each other.”
Last Saturday, Mike McGlinchey pointed out how different Lance sounded in the huddle from OTAs to training camp. He talked about how Lance wasn’t stumbling through play-calls and how the rookie was more confident than ever in the huddle.
There is so much more that goes into being a starter than throwing the ball. First, you have to know the offense and everyone’s responsibility inside and out. Then, we get into preparation, adjusting pre-and post-snap, handling adversity, and about a thousand other things you’re tasked with during the week of practice.
Once Lance has mastered everything that Shanahan requires to excel at QB, he’ll start. It may not be until Week 5. It may not be until Week 14. When he’s ready, he’ll start. Lance pushing Garoppolo so early is a fantastic sign that the organization made the correct decision.