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If 49ers wait until Lance is fully ready, it will be too late

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Trey Lance

The 49ers told us what they thought of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Yet, apparently, they did not listen to themselves.

The blockbuster trade that enabled the 49ers to move up to No. 3 overall to select quarterback Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft, was a declaration from coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch that Garoppolo was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

This much has become obvious while Garoppolo remains as the starter: It is difficult to experience success with a quarterback who has no investment in the future.

The 49ers are floundering. This is a team that is going downhill fast after its fourth consecutive loss.

They can only hope their uninspiring 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night was the low point.

But it certainly can get worse.

The quarterback they entrusted to help turn things around is a player who will not be around much longer. He knows it. We all know it. And that puts Garoppolo in an incredibly awkward and difficult situation.

Lance might not be ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. That seems to be the vibe Shanahan has given off up to this point.

But rarely are young quarterbacks fully ready to take on the challenge. A leap of faith and patience are required.

It remains to be seen when Lance’s sprained left knee will allow him to step back on the field. When that time comes, Shanahan would be wise to change his mind and start building with Lance at quarterback.


Otherwise, this season will likely just be a waste.

The more Lance plays, the more it will help him in 2022 and beyond. That might be the only way to salvage this season.

Shanahan has been reluctant to consider anyone other than Garoppolo at quarterback this year because he believed Garoppolo gave the team the best chance to win. And with a veteran roster and a lot of players back on one-year contracts, the 49ers theoretically were set up to win.

But Garoppolo has not shown to be capable of being a consistent contributor to the winning formula.

Sure, the 49ers have a 24-11 regular-season record when he is the starter. But since the team’s Super Bowl season of 2019, the 49ers are 5-6 in games he started.

When everything is going right, Garoppolo is an OK quarterback. He probably ranks just a little lower than the middle of the pack among NFL starters.

But, clearly, the 49ers have their doubts. His play does not inspire — nor does his presence as a leader.

After the trade, the 49ers said they were moving on at some point in the future because of Garoppolo’s history of injuries. Obviously, that was not the only reason.

Shanahan has felt hand-cuffed by Garoppolo’s style of play. Shanahan wants to be aggressive offensively. But that is not the style of play that best suits Garoppolo.

Garoppolo does not have the arm, the inclination, or, perhaps, the talent around him to attack down the field.

And that’s fine.

As long as the 49ers are running the ball successfully, the defense is playing well, and Garoppolo does not turn the ball over, it’s still a formula that can result in victories.

The problem has been that, while Garoppolo does not put pressure on defenses, he also is way too careless with the football.

In 35 starts with the 49ers, Garoppolo has thrown 30 interceptions and fumbled 22 times (losing eight of them).

The 49ers need something they are lacking. They need a purpose.

Garoppolo could remain at quarterback and not a whole lot will change. Maybe the 49ers could string together some victories and look like a decent team over the final 11 games of the season.

Then what?

RELATED: Jimmy G confident 49ers can fight back despite rough stretch

Ultimately, this will be Trey Lance’s team.

This was not supposed to be a rebuilding year for the 49ers.

But at this stage, the best thing for the organization is to ride through the ups and downs of a rookie quarterback who might not be ready.

Then, at least, there would be something that generates some excitement and inspiration for the 49ers’ future.

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