On the first day of training camp, Kyle Shanahan wasted no time revealing the pecking order of the 49ers depth chart at quarterback. The head coach noted there is currently not an open competition for the Week 1 job under center, further cementing veteran Jimmy Garoppolo's status heading into the 2021 season. Meanwhile, No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance -- who has yet to sign his rookie contract -- enters his first camp as Garoppolo's backup.
"There's no open competition right now," Shanahan said Tuesday. "Jimmy is coming in as the one and Trey is coming in as the two."
Of course, the "right now" caveat from Shanahan does keep the door open slightly for Lance to possibly force his hand with a strong camp, but it does seem like the team is intent on taking things slow with its first-round rookie. While Lance is clearly the future at the position after the 49ers made the blockbuster splash to go up and get him at the draft last spring, it remained to be seen how soon he'd actually unseat Garoppolo as the starter. Given his draft status, it was fair to wonder if he could rival for the job as soon as Week 1, but it does appear like Shanahan is open to not only begin this season with Garoppolo but possibly even ride him the entire way.
A scenario where Garoppolo remains the starter throughout the 2021 campaign as Lance learns in the shadows and then ascends to the starting job in 2022 doesn't seem out of the question. Because they have a veteran like Garoppolo -- who Shanahan commended back in June for putting together his best camp since being acquired from the 49ers -- the team can remain competitive this season while they prepare for the next phase in the background.
One of the major questions with that plan, however, is Garoppolo's durability. When healthy, he's proven to be a quarterback that can help lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl. He's also 24-9 in his starts with the Niners (including playoffs). That said, he's struggled to stay on the field, including in 2020 when he was limited to just six games. That lack of durability was the driving force in the team moving off Garoppolo for the long-term and making the trade up to No. 3 for Lance.
While Garoppolo's health could prove to be a key piece in whether or not he'll keep his starting job this season, Lance's play naturally figures in as well. If the rookie proves that he's capable of playing in Shanahan's offense at a high level, there should be no doubt about inserting him into the lineup to begin that era. Again, time will tell as to when that change will ultimately happen.
It does seem clear, however, that Garoppolo will at the very least be given an initial chance to be the 49ers starter in 2021 and try to accomplish what the team nearly completed in 2019 -- win a Super Bowl.