The San Francisco 49ers took their new quarterback in Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but when exactly will he take over for Jimmy Garoppolo? As the draft wore on, Garoppolo's list of potential landing spots dwindled. Now, it's starting to look more and more likely that he will be on the 49ers roster for the 2021 season.
Following the conclusion of the first round, head coach Kyle Shanahan said that it's going to be hard for a rookie to beat out Garoppolo for the starting role, and he may not be bluffing. In a recent interview with NBC Sports, 49ers CEO Jed York said he's fine if Garoppolo retains his starting role for one or even two years.
"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."
The 49ers' faith in Garoppolo has seemingly never wavered, but his availability has been the main issue. In 2019, Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while going 13-3 as the starter. He even led San Francisco to Super Bowl LIII. Unfortunately, that was the only season in which Garoppolo played all 16 games. In three full seasons with the 49ers since being acquired from the Patriots in 2017, Garoppolo has missed 23 out of 48 possible games.
York said that even if Lance doesn't play for two years, the 49ers will still be able to experience the financial benefits of having a starting quarterback on a rookie contract. The timeframe of "two years" was seemingly brought up because there are just two years remaining on Garoppolo's current contract. It's possible he could rebound, stay healthy and find success with the 49ers in 2021, and that would be perfectly fine with ownership. Lance is about to turn 21 years old, so he will still be a young player whenever he takes over the franchise.
"If he doesn't play until he's 23, but he's got a 15-plus-year career …" York said. "There were rumors about a guy, and obviously Kyle talked about trading for Aaron (Rodgers). How long did Aaron sit? Two or three years before he played? And, again, I want to make sure that we do everything we can to make sure that position is the best it can possibly be in the NFL."