The 49ers made two deep playoff runs in the last three seasons, with Jimmy Garoppolo guiding the offense. He was often injured and was not a star quarterback.
But the Niners surrounded him with a quality supporting cast, and he was a comfortable fit as a sound decision-maker when he was healthy.
As San Francisco moves on to Trey Lance this season, the big difference between the two quarterbacks should be decision-making and accuracy. Lance still has to prove himself in those regards, even though he is a more dynamic athlete than Garoppolo.
While Garoppolo wasn’t going to make too many highlight-reel plays, he did make sound decisions and got the ball to the right targets very frequently. One thing is certain, whichever quarterback ends up leading the 49ers this coming season, it’s safe to say that San Francisco remains a solid NFC Championship contender.
Is Trey Lance Ready To Take The 49ers Back To The Mountaintop?
Be Patient With Lance in 2022
There are concerns about Lance’s overall lack of experience as he readies to take over as a regular starter in his second season. But he does have the same advantage that Garoppolo did of having a strong team built around him. The 2022 49ers are deep at wide receiver and running back. The offensive line should at least be adequate, and the defense should again be one of the NFC’s best units.
Yes, Lance has very exciting potential and could eventually prove to be the team’s most electric player at the quarterback position since Steve Young. But as he enters his first season as a starter, Lance does not need to feel the pressure of trying to carry the team on his shoulders. Garoppolo was able to lean on his playmakers to ease pressure on him, and Lance should be able to do the same.
Some 49ers followers may believe that the rest of the roster is built to win a Super Bowl now, though, and Lance could hold the team back in its quest to end a long championship drought. That is very possible, but also, keep in mind that the Niners’ championship window could just be starting to open with Lance as the offensive pilot.
Lance is going to be on his rookie contract for the next three seasons. Expecting him to win a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter is obviously too much of an ask. But do keep in mind that Patrick Mahomes was an MVP in his second year as a starter and won the Super Bowl in his third season. Russell Wilson won the Super Bowl in his second season as a starter. Both players won championships while on rookie deals.
We shouldn’t expect too much from Lance too soon, as this should be a season of becoming comfortable as a regular starter while he also naturally displays thrilling flashes of promise. We may not see them make it back to the Super Bowl right away under Lance this season, but expect to see the potential for the team to reach elite status in the NFC very soon.
Lance is not a quick fix to the offense. He should be viewed as a long-term dual-threat that will eventually be a tremendous leader of the offense. The rewards from Lance won’t be immediate, but there is a definite path to sustained long-term success with him as the projected franchise quarterback.
The Niners Have Assembled A Strong Cast Around Their Young QB
Look for the RPO attack to quickly become a more prominent and fun staple in the Lance-run offense. Elijah Mitchell and Tyrion Davis-Price should support Lance well and function effectively with him as RPO partners. The 49ers backfield is deep, with Trey Sermon and Jeff Wilson Jr. also in the mix. Opponents will constantly be guessing as to whether the quarterback or running back will be picking up significant chunks of yardage on any given play.
Deebo Samuel is the premier yardage after the catch wide receiver in the game and is the ultimate safety target for a young quarterback like Lance. George Kittle is another terrific source of security for a new starting quarterback. Brandon Aiyuk is continuing to improve, and Jauan Jennings has emerged as a dependable target on key downs.
As you can clearly see, Lance has all the right pieces around him to help him play well enough as a starter for the first time in 2022. He is another weapon himself because of his running abilities.
Yes, the 49ers faithful are naturally very hungry for another Super Bowl championship. But the march to another Vince Lombardi Trophy can begin this season with Lance developing into an eventual star. Enjoy the ride that starts this year, with an eye on a potential title in the next few seasons. You may eventually look back on the 2022 season as the year when the 49ers’ push to another title began.
With Lance and a fine roster around him, the future is very bright. Just don’t get restless as progress is made this year.
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