Quarterback Trey Lance was a popular pick among the 49ers’ fan base at No. 3 overall.
Do you want to know who has an even greater approval rating? Jimmy Garoppolo.
The idea of Garoppolo remaining as the 49ers’ starting quarterback to open the 2021 regular season has strong support among the fan base.
Nearly 8,500 fans responded to a poll asking which player they would like to see line up at quarterback to start the upcoming season. Garoppolo was the overwhelming winner with nearly 68 percent of the vote.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he will start the player he believes gives the team the best chance of winning games. That decision will be made during training camp.
Garoppolo had a strong offseason program, giving him a sizable head start at the opening of training camp in late-July.
Lance, like all the 49ers rookies, did a lot of learning during the offseason program. When the full squad returns to Santa Clara, that is when the competition begins.
“They kind of get to figure out what they just went through and how to do it on their own,” Shanahan said. “Then they come back to training camp and you see what you really got.”
The reasons for 49ers fans to hope Lance opens the season as the starter are obvious.
The 49ers have won a lot of football games with Garoppolo. If Shanahan determines Lance is already better, then the team should be immediately improved with his dual-threat capabilities.
The other part is that if Garoppolo is not the starter, it seems likely the 49ers will look to create significant salary-cap space on his scheduled pay of $25.5 million. That money could be used in the future for Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel and others.
But what the fans seem to be saying is this: Everyone needs to stay patient with the future face of the franchise.
Lance played 16 games at North Dakota State in 2019. He threw for 28 touchdowns, no interceptions, and rushed for 14 touchdowns.
He was limited to just one game in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When he takes the field during the preseason, Lance will have played just one game in the past year-and-a-half.
Before the 49ers finalized the trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up from No. 9 to No. 3, general manager John Lynch went to CEO Jed York for approval to retain Garoppolo while also making a large investment in a young quarterback.
“Knowing it’s the most important position in sports, and it’s great to have a guy that you do believe in and has gotten you to a Super Bowl,” York told NBC Sports Bay Area after the 2021 NFL Draft.
“So you don’t have to put the weight of the world on a rookie, whoever it was we were going to choose. And now that we know Trey is here, you don’t have to put the weight of the world on that kid’s shoulders. And he can grow into that position.”
The results of the poll signify that the 49ers’ fan base has fallen in line with York.
There is no rush to push Lance onto the field as long as Garoppolo is healthy and playing at a high level.
But if the 49ers struggle at the beginning of the season, the calls for Lance almost certainly will increase.