If the 49ers want to avoid another year of questions about their quarterback situation, they can nip it in the bud this week.
For the first time in two years, the NFL is holding league meetings in person. That means almost every head coach and general manager is going to be in Palm Beach, Florida - and they’re going to meet the media.
What will John Lynch and/or Kyle Shanahan say about the quarterback situation? Last week ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that “Trey Lance has gotten the full impression behind the scenes that he will start in 2022.” Will Kyle and John give everyone else that impression in front of the cameras?
If they did, they could end a lot of speculation immediately. If they said, “We’re grateful to Jimmy Garoppolo for everything he’s done, but we’ve moved forward with Trey Lance as our starter in 2022,” they could put the kibosh on the quarterback situation once and for all.
They wouldn’t even have to say whether they’re going to trade or release Jimmy. They could just stick to that line and repeat it over and over again until people stop asking. Frankly, it’s what they should do. Take a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook and control the narrative.
Moreover, it’s an opportunity to send a message to fans and to the players on the team that the Jimmy Garoppolo era is over and Trey Lance is the guy going forward. It’s likely that’s what they wanted to do last season with the farewell press conference, but Jimmy’s continued presence on the roster has thrown that idea into question. They need to reiterate that message.
Any other response creates a quarterback controversy. Surely the 49ers have to be smart enough to know this, especially after last season's questions. Anything other than “Trey is the starter, period” can potentially begin a locker room divide that will only widen once training camp starts.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the 49ers play this. There was a thought that the drafting of Lance would light a fire under Garoppolo and push his play to another level. That clearly was not the case despite the BS the team tried to peddle before the season. Do they think they can put a chip on Lance’s shoulder by not fully endorsing him as the starter from day one next year? I certainly hope not.
It’s time for the team to embrace Lance as the player explicitly they actively want under center, rather than just the guy that will take over as the starter if the other guy isn’t there. A year ago, the trade up to number three in the draft told the world that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t good enough. The time has come to say it again.
Barring something unexpected, Jimmy Garoppolo is not going to get traded before training camp. The 49ers have the perfect opportunity to head a massive controversy off at the pass this week. Fully and unequivocally endorsing Trey Lane as the day-one starter in 2022 sidesteps a shit storm with the potential to cloud the entire season. Anything other than that moves the 49ers right into the heart of a quarterback controversy.