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ESPN’s Mina Kimes: ‘I disagree with how [the 49ers] have handled the whole thing’

One of ESPN’s top analysts is not a fan of how the Niners have managed Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo this season.

49ers QBs Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance throw during OTAs Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN NFL Analyst Mina Kimes discussed the 49ers quarterback situation with Charles McDonald of For The Win on this week’s episode of The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has stuck by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo all season over rookie first-round pick Trey Lance. However, with Garoppolo dealing with a Grade 3 sprain in his right hand, Lance might be asked to start two consecutive games for the first time in his career.

Kimes discussed Lance’s performance in last week’s victory over the Houston Texans. While she had some critiques of his performance, she ultimately came away from the game wishing he had received more opportunities this season:

“You saw him get better over the course of the game and this is obvious to anyone watching, but you saw him [Trey Lance] not repeat the same mistakes as it went on, take more risks, use his arm, process quicker… It’s frustrating because I was watching it and was like ‘imagine if this dude had played all season, how much better he would be now?’ Because we’re watching one game where he’s coming in pretty cold. I disagree with how they’ve handled the whole thing.”

McDonald agreed with Kimes’ criticism, responding, “I think it’s a little bizarre how they handled this. Because you look at the potential there with Trey, and it’s just a totally different type of offense.”

At this point in the season, Kimes acknowledged that she might still start a healthy Garoppolo over Lance against the Rams because of the matchup. “I think this Rams defense is vulnerable to what Jimmy does when he does it well. It’s part of the reason why I think the Niners have had a lot of success against this iteration of the Rams defense which is their weakness is that short to intermediate pass game... The linebackers can’t cover. So that’s something that, if Jimmy is healthy, Kyle Shanahan can exploit.”

Of course, the pressure is on San Francisco, who can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Los Angeles Rams this week but could be eliminated if they lose. The 49ers are 8-6 in Garoppolo’s 14 starts this season and 1-1 in Lance’s two. Garoppolo has completed 68% of his passes for 3,494 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Lance has completed 57.7% of his passes for 603 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.