After a surprising Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears, the calls from the media to quickly replace Trey Lance have already begun. But are they starting to come from inside the 49ers locker room as well?
On the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast this week, Chris said he’s heard that the team’s locker room might not be quite as united as Kyle Shanahan has presented.
“They are a Super Bowl football team. To do justice to your organization, your fan base, and more importantly to your football team and the guys in the locker room, you’ve got to play the best players. I’ve heard through the grapevine that there’s guys in that locker room that go, ‘Jimmy G. is the best player.’ I know. I don’t want to call people out here but I’ve heard from people that I know around the NFL that go, ‘Yeah, there’s some prominent people in the 49ers locker room that go, ‘Jimmy Garoppolo is better.’’ That’s a real thing.”
When asked if those players were on the offensive side of the ball, Simms said coyly, “Maybe, but I’m not telling.”
The conversation started after a listener wrote that Trey Lance should be benched. In fairness, Chris did mention the conditions in which the game was played as a reason not to judge Lance too harshly. He also didn’t say players think Jimmy should start over Trey Lance. Those players may want to see what Trey becomes while acknowledging Garoppolo is better at the moment. But he also said Jimmy could return in Week 3 if things don’t improve against the Seahawks.
The 49ers seem well-prepared to deal with external pressure to bench Trey Lance and turn to Jimmy Garoppolo. The real question is how prepared are they deal with internal pressure to make the change. John Lynch told us that he and Kyle Shanahan went to the team’s 15-person leadership council and asked them to support Lance through ups and downs once the decision was made to resign Jimmy Garoppolo. Reportedly everyone was on board. Time will tell how long that support lasts.
I understand that some of you may be frustrated by stories like this. I share that frustration. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the 49ers knowingly signed up for the second they decided to keep Jimmy Garoppolo around for another season. They opened the door to stories like this all year long. Now, it is true that if Jimmy was on another roster right now there would still be people crowing about how they shouldn’t have made the switch. The difference would be internally. There would be no pressure to bench Trey Lance in that scenario because Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy don’t deserve snaps over someone you drafted third overall a year ago.
As ever, the chatter will quiet down if Trey plays well and the 49ers win on Sunday. Unless and until that happens, however, brace yourself for more conversations just like this one.