Juice breaks down key difference between Lance and Jimmy G originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Jimmy Garoppolo’s inability to stay healthy was one of the main reasons the 49ers chose to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft and select Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick. But coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch also know Garoppolo’s ceiling is limited and that the best way to win in the modern NFL is to have a signal-caller who can make something out of nothing.
The 49ers have seen little of Lance during his rookie season. The North Dakota State product saw minimal snaps in the first three weeks before taking over for an injured Garoppolo at halftime of the 49ers’ Week 4 game vs. the Seattle Seahawks. Lance made his first career start in Week 5 and then didn’t take another meaningful snap until last Sunday when the 49ers called on him to start after Garoppolo suffered a Grade 3 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.
Lance had a shaky first half against the Houston Texans, but the rookie settled in, throwing for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while leading the 49ers to a 23-7 win.
Garoppolo’s availability for Sunday’s win-and-in clash with the Los Angeles Rams still is up in the air. The 49ers will prepare game plans for both Garoppolo and Lance at the start of the week.
On Tuesday, fullback Kyle Juszczyk went on NFL Network and broke down the differences between Garoppolo and Lance, praising both while highlighting the reason Shanahan and Lynch picked Lance to be the future of the franchise.
“Jimmy is so good at just being an efficient, on-time passer, getting the ball out quick, letting his guys do things with it. And Trey, he can do a little bit more improvising, getting outside of the pocket and getting the ball downfield. And that is a stress for defenses,” Juszczyk said.
“I know in today’s age of football, if you can get outside of the pocket and extend the play, that’s where the big plays are, in these broken plays. You see it all across the league with mobile quarterbacks, so it’s great to have that element when we have Trey. But either quarterback that we have, each one of them has their strengths that really help our team.”
It’s obvious the 49ers will have a higher ceiling with Lance in the future. However, the 21-year-old looked very much like a rookie Sunday vs. the Texans, and Shanahan was forced to give Lance a simplified version of the offense that he was confident the young signal-caller could execute in his second career start.
The 49ers won’t face an easy decision when it comes to which quarterback to start Sunday. Garoppolo can run Shanahan’s entire system but will be far from 100 percent healthy. Lance, on the other hand, will only have a portion of the playbook available but is healthy and can make the off-schedule plays that even a healthy Garoppolo cannot.
In order to punch their ticket to the NFL playoffs, the 49ers must either beat the Rams on Sunday or hope the Atlanta Falcons upset the New Orleans Saints. Lance is the QB of the future, but the only thing that matters at the moment is deciding which signal-caller gives the 49ers the best chance to win Sunday against a loaded Rams team.
How Shanahan answers that question likely will determine whether or not the 49ers’ season ends Sunday or continues for at least one more week.