Jed York told NBC Sports Bay Area this week that he would be comfortable with the 49ers not starting Trey Lance in his first few seasons, but ESPN's Todd McShay believes the No. 3 overall pick will get his chance much sooner.
"I don't care about the message, I care about reality. And yes, I understand, Trey Lance 17 starts, FCS, only one game this past season. When you study the tape, he processes as fast as Mac Jones from Alabama or any other quarterback in this entire class," McShay said Thursday on NFL Live. "Being real, last 13 years there's been 39 quarterbacks drafted in the first round, only three of them did not start a game. So history tells us its a longshot that Lance is not going to start."
"First of all, I think they're going to try and work him in regardless. Second of all, there's a real good chance Jimmy G gets injured. Third of all, you don't trade all the way up, and even if it was for Mac Jones, and adjust your mindset because Trey Lance blew you away, and then not play him this upcoming season. I think Trey Lance is going to start more games than any other quarterback for San Fran."
York joined Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt on the latest episode of 49ers Talk, and said he wouldn't mind Lance getting a chance to sit and learn from Jimmy G for as long as necessary.
“We’ve talked about this internally,” York said on 49ers Talk. “If we’re in a situation where Jimmy goes out and takes us to a Super Bowl again and has an MVP-caliber season, and does it again, there are worse dilemmas to be in. And Jimmy certainly has the ability to do that.
“Knowing it’s the most important position in sports, and it’s great to have a guy that you do believe in and has gotten you to a Super Bowl. So you don’t have to put the weight of the world on a rookie, whoever it was we were going to choose. And now that we know Trey is here, you don’t have to put the weight of the world on that kid’s shoulders. And he can grow into that position.”
It is understandable that the 49ers would want to minimize the pressure on Lance through public messaging, especially since they have no control over the inherent burden that comes with being a top-five QB.
On the other hand, this is a team that was in the Super Bowl just two years ago. Many of those pieces remain on the roster, and they won't be around forever.
The 49ers' championship window is open, but with how quickly things change in the NFL, it won't be long before it closes. Whichever QB gives the 49ers the best chance to win needs to be the player on the field in 2021.
Sending multiple future first-round draft picks to the Miami Dolphins as part of the trade up precludes the 49ers from adding impact players at other positions. Case in point, Nick Bosa was a rookie on that 49ers team that advanced to the Super Bowl after being the No. 2 overall draft pick.
The 49ers won't have as many chances to add a potential immediate starter in the draft over the next two years, the price of selecting Lance.
The 49ers' quarterback room features Garoppolo, Lance, Josh Rosen, Josh Johnson and Nate Sudfeld. If Garoppolo went down due to injury, Lance is the only guy the team likely would be comfortable with taking extensive snaps in his place.
Garoppolo's presence is a luxury for the 49ers, something teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles did not extend to their top five quarterbacks in recent years. A proven QB who is intricately familiar with the offense does allow the 49ers to bring Lance along at their own pace.
Injuries could accelerate the timeline for Lance, but the 49ers appear to be committed to taking their time with their rookie signal-caller.
Depending on how the 2021 season plays out, however, don't be surprised if events lead them to reverse course and bring Lance off the shelf in his first season.