The San Francisco 49ers have been gracious enough to allow rookie quarterback Trey Lance to receive some practical on-field exposure this season, though in a limited capacity and usually only when the starter quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, has been sidelined with injuries.
However, according to media rumors, it may be time to give Lance a little more action, this time in the NFL playoffs.
Garoppolo is still the undisputed starter, and the Niners have won back-to-back postseason games against the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers to advance to the NFC Championship game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
However, Garoppolo has not been the key X-factor in each playoff game thus far. Trying to play with a thumb and shoulder injury hasn’t helped, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he threw interceptions in back-to-back postseason games and was only somewhat efficient in the stunning 13-10 win over Green Bay at a frigid Lambeau Field.
San Francisco’s defense and run game have been the key reasons for the team’s success thus far.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan, on the other hand, may need to get a little more creative in order to beat the Rams.
While appearing on the “Pat McAfee Show,” NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reinforced the comments, implying that San Francisco might earn a solid haul for him in the trade market if (or when) when they give the reins over to Number 3 overall pick Trey Lance, whom the team traded up for in the 2021 NFL Draft.
"The 49ers are gonna have significant trade interest for Jimmy G this offseason.. they'll have the opportunity to trade him for a real draft pick & turn things over to Trey Lance" ~@RapSheet#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE #FTTB pic.twitter.com/rrkMUWk6VI
— 🅿️at McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 25, 2022
Last summer, trade rumors began when the 49ers traded up in the draft in order to choose a quarterback.
Garoppolo revealed before the playoffs that the season had been difficult due to the presence of the highly regarded Lance on the depth chart behind him.
“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Garoppolo stated. “It has been in mine, really, the whole season. I knew what type of season it was, knew everything that was going on behind the scenes and what-not. It was a little different,” he added.
Lance could help 49ers red-zone troubles
All of this is not to imply that Garoppolo should be benched. Shanahan would be extremely reckless to completely replace his experienced veteran with a still-unpolished rookie.
But that doesn’t mean Lance can’t contribute something else that could make the Rams’ game plan a little more difficult in advance of Sunday’s game.
49ers should really start using Lance in the red zone. Their red zone offense has been bad in the playoffs.
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) January 25, 2022
The Rams let opponents score red-zone touchdowns 51.8 percent of the time at the end of the regular season, which ranked tenth in the league.
Based solely on the Niners’ recent red-zone struggles, it doesn’t appear that Shanahan’s offense will be able to instantly get into the end zone as frequently as it did during the regular season, and LA’s potent offense effectively means San Francisco will have to leverage on every red-zone presence it gets during the NFC Championship game.
In the playoffs, he has struggled, throwing for only 303 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in two matches, but the 49ers have won both games against the Cowboys and Packers.
Garoppolo seemed to be putting the squad in a no-win situation earlier in the season. Now it appears that everyone will benefit: Jimmy will be given a fresh start, Lance will be given his chance, and the 49ers will have a shot at playing in the Super Bowl this weekend.