Could Lance return this season? Lynch gives update on QB's injury


Just over two months after Trey Lance's second NFL season was cut short by a broken ankle, the young quarterback was seen walking around Estadio Azteca in Mexico City before his 49ers defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

Lance was out of his walking boot and all smiles -- a welcome sight for the 49ers Faithful after his heartbreaking injury.

And 49ers general manager John Lynch, who suffered his own share of setbacks during his Hall of Fame playing career, knows Monday's Lance sighting is something that shouldn't be taken for granted.

"It is true, he is out of his walking boot, and sometimes you'll see guys with that specific injury -- it's just a tough one," Lynch said Wednesday on KNBR. "Right away, [with] the mobility -- or lack thereof -- but Trey is moving really well."

So, with Lance now up and walking after his successful Sept. 19 ankle surgery, could the 22-year-old return to action this season? Jimmy Garoppolo currently is playing the best football of his career as QB1 for a San Francisco team that has won three games in a row. But Lance has just eight NFL appearances to his name and minimal college experience, so the sooner he can return to the field, the better for his development.

Still, Lynch on Wednesday essentially shut down the notion of Lance playing in any capacity this season.


"I don't see that as a possibility," Lynch said. "He did a number on his ankle. ... I think that's a big ask to get back this year.

"We’re just really encouraged by the way it’s responding and by the way Trey has been working to try to make it as good as possible. Trey’s doing a great job going to every meeting, supporting his teammates. He’s well liked."

Garoppolo, who ranks among the league's top five quarterbacks in passer rating this season, will enter free agency in the spring. Whether or not he'll return to the 49ers or play somewhere else remains to be seen, but San Francisco made it clear Lance is the team's signal-caller of the future.

That had been the plan for 2022 as well, with Garoppolo taking a pay cut to remain on the roster as Lance's backup. And even in the aftermath of Lance's "big bro," as he has called Garoppolo in the past, taking over under center, the pair remains close as ever.

"He and Jimmy have a tremendous relationship," Lynch said. "Jimmy, when he was the backup, did everything he could to make things as good as possible for Trey, and Trey is doing the same thing in turn. Those guys are doing great.

"Trey is moving extremely well, and we’re encouraged by his rehab and the way it’s going."

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Lance's intellect and athletic abilities are what originally drew the 49ers to him, and he didn't get there without an incredible work ethic. And while it appears highly unlikely fans will see Lance play again this season, they can rest assured he'll be ready to go when he's called upon next.

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