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Dungy says Shanahan owes it to 49ers to play most-ready QB

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Trey Lance

The blueprint for the 49ers and Trey Lance is certainly not what’s happening around the NFL with Jacksonville, the New York Jets, Chicago and New England.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, an analyst for NBC Sports, says the  better comparisons to the 49ers’ handling of their quarterback situation are Green Bay’s development of Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City’s plan with Patrick Mahomes.

“If you’re Kyle Shanahan and you really believe Jimmy Garoppolo gives you the best chance to win, you have to do that,” Dungy said on 49ers Talk.

“You owe it to your team to put the person out there that gives you the best chance to win right now. That’s no knock on Trey Lance.”

Despite a strong training camp from Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, Shanahan never wavered in his conviction that Garoppolo was the starting quarterback.

Garoppolo started the first four games of the season before Lance took over for 1 1/2 games when Garoppolo was unable to play due to a calf injury.

Garoppolo is expected to be back in the starting lineup when the 49ers play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium. Lance has not practiced this week due to a left knee sprain.

“This is not a journeyman quarterback that they’re replacing or eventually going to replace,” Dungy said. “Jimmy Garoppolo took this team to the Super Bowl -- a couple of plays from winning the Super Bowl.

“They know they can win with him. This, to me, is more like Patrick Mahomes going to Kansas City and sitting behind Alex Smith for a year or Aaron Rodgers going to Green Bay and sitting behind Brett Favre.”


The 49ers (2-3) are a team that believes it can qualify for the playoffs and make a deep run in the postseason.

That is why Shanahan would not be making the right call to go with Lance at this stage when he is not quite ready, Dungy said.

“When you have a quarterback that you know can take you to the playoffs and win, you can’t just say, ‘Oh, well, we’re going to put the rookie in because he needs to play,’” Dungy said. “You still have to play who gives you the best chance to win right now.”

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Lance’s time will come at some point.

And even when Lance becomes the permanent starter, Dungy cautions that it could be a while before it would be fair to judge him.

“We may not know exactly what Trey Lance can do for another year,” Dungy said. “And that’s OK. The coaches know.

“They drafted Trey Lance for a reason. He’s going to fit this offense. He’s going to be fine. It may not be this week. It may not be four weeks from now. But down the road, he’s going to be just fine.”

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