Trey Lance might be the 49ers' future at the quarterback position, but that doesn't mean the organization has decided he will take over as the starter next season.
NBC Sports' Peter King reported Sunday night that the 49ers "have not made their minds up, at all" regarding the position for 2022, and that Garoppolo's midseason resurgence has left the front office "impressed."
"I’m told the Niners have not made up their minds, at all, about how to handle their quarterback situation in 2022 and beyond. They shouldn’t be. How do you know how Garoppolo will play down the stretch, and into a playoff run if that’s the fate of this season? I’m also told the Niners have been impressed, with Garoppolo’s career on the line, with how he’s handled this weird year, with Lance being the third pick in the draft and with Garoppolo expected to just handle things like a pro. He has," King wrote in his "Football Morning in America" weekly column.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported at the end of November that the 49ers' plan was to start Lance next season and find a trade partner for Garoppolo, whose nine-figure contract expires at the end of 2022.
Given what the 49ers gave up to trade up in the draft to select Lance, it would make sense that the organization would want him on the field sooner rather than later. Lance has played a total of 116 offensive snaps this season, and hasn't thrown a pass since Week 5.
Lance's one start this season came in that Week 5 game in Arizona against the Cardinals. The rookie finished 15-of-29 passing for 192 yards and one interception, while also picking up 89 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Garoppolo has turned things around of late after a rocky start, and has been among the league's most efficient quarterbacks since Week 7.
The 49ers have vaulted back into the NFC playoff picture, and sit No. 6 in the standings after the win in Cincinnati pushed their record to 7-6. Garoppolo's limiting of turnovers and mistakes has been an integral part of that.
The poor performances of Lance's fellow rookie quarterbacks this season likely has shown the 49ers that there is no need to force him into action, especially if Garoppolo is healthy and the team is winning.
There should be a number of teams this offseason looking to make changes at the quarterback position, and Garoppolo could be among the top options potentially available.
How much trade interest there ends up being in Garoppolo likely will be a determining factor in whether to make Lance the definite starter or whether to keep Jimmy G around to compete with the No. 3 overall draft pick.
Shanahan and 49ers general manager John Lynch will have some decisions to make this offseason, but they likely are more focused on pushing for a playoff spot at this point.