He may not be an Olympic high jumper, but Trey Lance’s impressive leap from OTAs to training camp has created quite a stir in the Bay Area. The No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft has performed so well during training camp that Kyle Shanahan was asked about Lance possibly being his starter when the 49ers face the Lions in Week 1.
Shanahan made it clear that he does not think that Lance will overtake Jimmy Garoppolo as the 49ers’ starter when the regular season begins. That being said, the 49ers’ coach didn’t rule it out, either. Shanahan had previously said that something drastic would have to happen for Lance to be the 49ers’ Week 1 starter over Garoppolo, who helped lead San Francisco to an NFC title in 2019.
“I think that would be pretty tough to do, so I’m not trying to put that pressure on Trey,” Shanahan said, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “[Garoppolo] is too good of a football player and Trey is trying to learn everything right now and soak it all in. So that’s why I’d be very surprised if he was able to do that.”
Garoppolo should still be considered the starter, but Lance’s performance in training camp has created legitimate questions as to who will be the team’s Week 1 starter. During a recent practice, Lance showcased his mobility and willingness to test the defense deep. He also had success getting the ball to his receivers on crossing routes, a key facet of the 49ers’ passing attack.
“You see the raw talent, and you see the ball fly out of his hand. Impressive,” linebacker Fred Warner recently told NBC Sports Peter King. “Games will be different. But 11 on 11 out here is still football, and we’re seeing a young guy work and be humble and make throws like that. That’s what he needs to do.”
Conversely, Garoppolo has not had his best camp thus far. He overthrew Deebo Samuel on a deep route that was intercepted by Jason Verrett during Saturday’s practice. Garoppolo was also picked off by Warner earlier in the day.
The good news for Garoppolo is that the 49ers are only four practices into training camp. Based on his experience and Shanahan’s comments, he remains the odds-on favorite to be the 49ers’ Week 1 starter. But if Lance continues on his current trajectory, Shanahan will face similar questions on a more frequent basis between now and the start of the regular season.
“When he doesn’t have a good throw, he knows that as much as anyone,” Shanahan said of Lance, via Matt Barrows of The Athletic. “I just like that he keeps firing it. I mean, some (throws) are going to be good, some are going to be bad. But the more you get reps, the more you get your feet under you, the more you know where you’re going, the more consistent that’ll be.”