"Rams Week" is upon us and there is still one major question to be answered: Who should start at quarterback in Week 18?
Let's first assume that Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy and has recovered from the thumb injury that sidelined him Week 17 against the Texans. This is a fair assumption, for Garoppolo has been seen at practice the past two days, preparing as if he is ready to start the final game of the regular season.
Regardless of his health, the answer to the previously posed question is clear: Trey Lance should start this game.
In Lance's second ever start, he recorded 249 yards and two touchdowns with a completion rate of nearly 70%. Aside from his one interception, an errant throw to George Kittle, Lance played an incredible game, especially for a rookie.
In this game, Lance also demonstrated what he can add to this offense that Jimmy can not: His strong arm and his athleticism.
Throughout the game, fans witnessed Lance make plays that Jimmy could only dream of, throwing rockets over the middle to Brandon Aiyuk and a deep touchdown to Deebo Samuel. His big play ability is something the 49ers have been missing with years of Jimmy Garoppolo.
His athleticism is something special too. Not only was Lance able to rush for 30 yards, gaining first downs and moving the chains, he was able to extend plays by moving outside the pocket and making throws on the run. Jimmy's consistent play inside the pocket is impressive, but Lance's ability to make plays and improvise is something that can not be overstated in its importance.
The main criticism with Lance starting in the most important game of the season is his inconsistent play. This is a fair concern, as Trey Lance has started in two games with two very different results. His first start was against the Arizona Cardinals, a playoff team, where he posted an awful 58.4 passer rating. This is completely different than the impressive Lance that we saw against the Texans.
Critics would say the reason for such a stark difference in performances is because of the difference in competition the two teams offered. Arizona is one of the best teams in the NFL, while the Texans were the third team to be eliminated from the playoff race.
This is not the reason, however. Trey played better against the Texans because Shanahan coached better. Against the Cardinals, Coach Kyle called 13 designed runs, not trusting Lance to throw the ball. Even when a throw was called, the play was not one that played to Lance's strengths, deep passes and outside throws, and, instead, played to Jimmy's strengths of plays over the middle.
In the Texans game, Lance got play calls that enabling him to shine as a player, allowing him to make plays with his feet and his arm, converting the 49ers offense into an eleven man offense.
Although I believe that Trey should get the nod in this must-win game, I would not be upset with Jimmy starting. Jimmy has beat the Rams five times in a row, having not lost to them since 2018. He's proven he can consistently perform against this tough division opponent. With all this being said, for the reasons stated before, Trey Lance still puts the team in the best situation to win.
Who do you think should start on Sunday? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Whether it is Lance or not, go Niners!