Trey Lance broke his ankle in the 49ers’ Week 2 contest against the Seattle Seahawks, and Jimmy Garoppolo will take back his spot as starting quarterback. Does this make San Francisco a better team?
That’s reportedly the sentiment within the organization, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Silver. Lance left the game in the first quarter, and throughout the rest of the game at Levi’s Stadium Garoppolo threw for 154 yards (13-for-21) and scored two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground. Lance will have surgery on his ankle, and it will end his sophomore season.
“This is the part no one wants to say publicly, but something several players and coaches enunciated privately in the wake of Sunday?s game — the 49ers are a better team right now with Garoppolo at quarterback than they were with Lance,” Silver wrote.
Two sources also told Silver, “I can’t say it, but you can.”
It’s tough to assess how true this claim is. When Garoppolo has been healthy, he has taken San Francisco to two NFC title games and a Super Bowl. The quarterback will turn 31 on Nov. 2, so it was logical for Kyle Shanahan to look at the younger Lance (22), who the 49ers took with the No. 3 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lance, in theory, provided the 49ers offense with a more dynamic approach on offense. Shanahan has defended the play call where Lance got hurt, which was a quarterback run up the middle.
The other issue is sample size. Lance has only started four games in his two-year career. His first two starts in 2021 were merely spot starts to fill in for an injured Garoppolo, and his first start in 2022 didn’t provide the quarterback with ideal conditions.
Publicly, in postgame new conferences, players expressed their sympathies for Lance, including Garoppolo, who has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his own career. But the reported sentiments are likely not going to go away if Garoppolo can lead the 49ers to a winning record in 2022, and it could also seep into the fan base, as well.