Known around the league for being an offensive mastermind, Shanahan now faces a pivotal decision regarding who will be the quarterback to lead the 49ers offense in the future. Will the team keep Jimmy Garoppolo? Or is it officially time for Trey Lance to takeover?
Understanding the Options
First and foremost, it is important to consider all potential options that are available to Shanahan and the 49ers organization. While it is usually rare for a starting quarterback to play out the final year of their contract, technically speaking the 49ers could have Jimmy Garoppolo do just that. He is under contract with the team for the 2022 season, with a salary totaling approximately $25.5 million.
This of course means the team could in theory choose to do nothing and simply move forward with Jimmy as the starter for 2022, perhaps with the intention of transitioning to Trey Lance if/when he is ready to takeover.
Many anticipated that such a transition would occur during the 2021 season, though it never seemed all that close to becoming a reality considering that the only time Lance saw the field was when Garoppolo was injured and unavailable. And as soon as he was good enough to play again, Jimmy G was immediately re-inserted into the starting role.
Winning Matters, and Jimmy Does Win
Top-5 highest career win pct by QBs to play their entire career in the Super Bowl era (min. 20 starts, including playoffs):
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 27, 2022
Garoppolo is 31-14 as a starter with the San Francisco 49ers, and has lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance as well as the NFC championship game. It is common to hear phrases like “winning cures all” or “nothing matters more than winning” when discussing the National Football League. If those things are true, then why would the 49ers not want to keep Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter?
Health is Legitimate Concern
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 23, 2018
In fairness, health and availability are legitimate concerns when considering a future with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB. He has missed significant time in multiple seasons since joining the 49ers, but when he has been available the on field results have been successful.
The Trey Lance Variable
Knowing the health concerns surrounding Garoppolo, combined with the need to have a viable alternative option make it reasonable for the 49ers to have considered the need to draft a quarterback last year. But what they ultimately decided to do seemed to cement the fact that they would not even entertain the idea of offering Garoppolo a contract extension.
The team traded away multiple future first round picks in order to move up in the draft to take Trey Lance third overall. A move that immediately made Lance the future of the QB position for the team.
This is a team that had just been in a Super Bowl, and has since gotten back to an NFC Championship game, all without any significant impact or contributions coming from the player they traded up to take at number 3 overall in the most recent draft.
This is still one of the most impressive throws I’ve seen from a 49ers QB in a long time pic.twitter.com/nOAOYKC6jc
— NINER NATE (@ninernate49) January 31, 2022
Fans are hoping that there will be plenty of plays like this in the future from Trey Lance. But have coaches seen enough to leverage the future of the franchise on it? Time will tell.
There is no doubt that Kyle Shanahan has some tough decisions to make regarding the future of his football team, but no decision will have a bigger impact on his coaching legacy than whatever he decides to do at the quarterback position between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance.
What Should They Do?
— Spinnable Sports (@SpinnableSports) February 1, 2022