The Trey Lance era started for the 49ers on Thursday night when they used their No. 3 overall pick to select the young quarterback out of North Dakota State.
While Lance is the 49ers' future and the quarterback coach Kyle Shanahan has tabbed to be the face of the franchise, Jimmy Garoppolo remains very much a part of what the 49ers want to do in 2021.
"Jimmy's situation is, if he isn't here on Sunday, I would be disappointed," Shanahan told reporters Thursday at the 49ers draft press conference. "Jimmy is a quarterback who has played one year and took us to a Super Bowl. And played at a very high level. He's had some unfortunate injuries, but I believe in Jimmy as a person and he's shown what he can do on tape. Now, we made this move, so it's obvious what I hope and what I believe with this guy coming in. But it would be a very tough situation if Jimmy isn't on our team. I want Jimmy to be here and I want this kid to be brought along, I want to see how he does and if it turns into a competition, it turns into a competition. I'd be excited about that if he showed he was ready and stuff, but we know where Jimmy is at.
"He hasn't played football in a year. He hasn't been to an OTA. I'd love to get him out here. It would be very hard for me to picture a situation in which Jimmy's not here on Sunday. I think that would be very stressful for us because I think Jimmy is a very good player and we can with him. We'll play that by ear. But I'd expect Jimmy to be here, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't."
Lance only is 20 years old and played in just 17 games in college. He has a strong arm, a high football IQ and elite athleticism that makes him a real threat in the quarterback run game and can make life tough on opposing defenses. Having a veteran quarterback like Garoppolo will be an asset both for the 49ers and for Lance as his presence allows them to take their time developing Lance and not rush him into action before he's ready to handle the rigors of piloting an NFL offense.
The 49ers played this process close to the vest but Shanahan and general manager John Lynch admitted Thursday that Lance was the QB they had their eye on when they made the blockbuster move up to the No. 3 spot in the draft.
To Shanahan, who has been searching for a quarterback with an elite arm to lead his deadly offense, everything about Lance was impressive when he turned on the tape.
"I love his natural ability to play the position," Shanahan said when asked what attracted him to Lance. "Then when you add in a type of running element, which I've always been intrigued with, but when you've got a guy with the skillsets as far as speed and size, to where you're not going to make him a runner but if you can get in certain formations where the defense knows you will run him if they don't honor him, now everything is different. If you can ever get a guy like that and make 11-on-11 football then I think you got a guy who can change some things for you.
"But it always comes down to yeah, you can dabble in that, but you better be confident they can do everything else. He has played a year of football, it was at a smaller school, so that does take work. You're not going to see it all, so that's why it is a hard process and that's why there is no guarantees for any of us. So it's about believing."
Shanahan, Lynch and the 49ers now have placed their future hopes on the pairing of Lance's right arm and Shanahan's offensive genius.
But while Lance is the focus of the future, Garoppolo will be a fixture for 2021 and the likely quarterback for a team with dreams of getting back to and winning the Super Bowl.