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Despite taking huge strides since OTAs, it’ll be tough for Lance to start Week 1

Albert Breer spoke to Kyle Shanahan, who isn’t looking at the quarterback competition as a binary decision

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The first week of padded practice saw Trey Lance start hot and ending somewhat shaky. Jimmy Garoppolo was “steady Eddie,” and it doesn’t appear that he’s ready to give up his starting spot any time soon.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer caught up with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan for his Monday Morning Quarterback article for a deeper dive into the Niners quarterback situation.

The 49ers weren’t going to sit Trey Lance on the bench all season after investing multiple first-round draft picks in the 21-year-old. That’s not how the sport works. So the real question was how soon Lance would play and how often he would see the field.

Don’t expect Lance to win the starting quarterback job in August, however. Here’s Shanahan, via Breer:

“I think it’s gonna be tough for [Lance] to win the job, just in terms of it being two different styles of quarterbacks, and maybe a little different style of offense for both of them,” Shanahan says. “I’d be very surprised if he did with the way Jimmy’s playing. It’d put a lot on a kid to do that. He’s doing everything he can. I’m very impressed with him so far, but I’d be very surprised if that happened.”

Shanahan isn’t in any rush to decide on how much Lance has to play or whether he needs to pick and choose which offense he wants to run:

“I think I can ride it out week-in and week-out, personally,” he says. “I think our guys trust us to make the right decision. It’s cool being in a building where no one has an agenda, whether it’s me, the GM, the owner. Everyone’s on the same page, there’s no pressure—Hey, you have to do this or You have to do that. And our players know that too, that’s what’s great about our place here. When players know you’re on the same page with the personnel department, with the owner, then they don’t really care. They just want to win.

“And I think when this is all said and done, there’s gonna be two guys they believe will help us win and I think they’ll trust us to make that decision, whether it’s permanently, for one game, for a series or just a situation. We gotta balance that out right, though. It’s tough to do, but it is as easy as ‘How do you win the game?’”

Seemingly every player on the Niners has been asked a similar quarterback question to some degree, and they often make a “what are you talking about?” look when answering. For example, Ross Dwelley said that there are times when he doesn’t even know which quarterback is in the game.

That tells you Shanahan’s message is clear. No matter who is under center, the goal remains the same: win the game. So while we will overanalyze each throw from both quarterbacks in practice and preseason games, Shanahan will play the QB who he feels gives the 49ers the best chance to win.

In Breer’s article, Shanahan spoke about how he would go as far as playing matchup ball with his quarterbacks. We’ll get a chance to see this play out in 34 days when San Francisco travels to Detriot.

A lot can change in a month. The hope is that both quarterbacks continue to progress, and Shanahan has a “good problem,” as he said, during the season.

No matter how you feel about Garoppolo, you have to admire how he’s handled this situation publicly and maintained his competitive edge with quotes like these:

“I always want to be the starter, I’ll always fight to be the starter. But at the end of the day, I’m playing football. I’m loving it right now. It’s a competition, that’s what you’re here for. I’m ready for whatever.”

Quotes like that make it easy to root for Jimmy G.