As the 49ers head into their bye week, head coach Kyle Shanahan faces a big decision when the team returns to prepare for its Week 7 clash vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
Will Shanahan go back to Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback if the veteran is healthy, or did he see enough from Trey Lance in his first career NFL start to hand the keys over to the rookie signal-caller?
Former 49er and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Joe Staley believes Shanahan won't stray from the plan he laid out before the season.
"I think he made his decision before the season even started," Staley said on KNBR's "Papa & Lund" show. "If Jimmy's healthy, he's going to be our quarterback this year. They want to use it as a red-shirt year, almost, for Trey this season. I was encouraged."
Also playing a factor in Shanahan's decision is that Lance suffered a left knee sprain in the 49ers' 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, and the rookie's status for Week 7 is unclear.
All things being equal, Staley believes the 49ers' offense has a different ceiling with Lance under center, but he also understands why Shanahan, who still believes the 49ers can contend for a Super Bowl despite their 2-3 start, would stick with Garoppolo.
"I mean, I found myself very excited to watch this game," Staley said of Lance's first career start. "I think when you look at the quarterback situation, you know what you're going to get out of Jimmy. He has the understanding of the offense, and I think he does probably give this team the best opportunity to consistently win games throughout the whole entire year because of the understanding of where to go with the football.
"But the offense isn't nearly, I don't feel, as exciting, and the potential isn't there for different layers to be added, as what Trey brings to the team. And for me, going into Week 7 and the bye, who do you put out there? There's a business aspect to this too. We have a quarterback that we're paying a lot of money, and do we want to just make that switch from Week 7, put him as the backup? Because once you do, once you make that switch when Jimmy is healthy, and go to Trey Lance, then you're not going to go back. You can't flip flop."
Following the loss to the Cardinals, Shanahan reiterated that nothing had changed in regards to the 49ers' desired plan at quarterback. When healthy, Garoppolo is the starter. Full stop.
During his weekly appearance on KNBR on Tuesday, Shanahan said Garoppolo's calf injury is doing better and the veteran is trending toward being ready for the Week 7 game vs. the Colts.
Lance is the 49ers' future. But Shanahan decides when the future begins, and Staley believes that time has not arrived yet in the head coach's eyes.