If you believe what the San Francisco 49ers are saying publicly, if everything goes according to plan for them this season, Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starting quarterback all year long. His backup will be No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, for whom they traded up from the No. 12 spot in order to land.
The Niners apparently think they have the type of roster that can both compete right away and provide an incubator for Lance's talents, allowing him to lead them into the future when he's fully ready to step on the field. It's not lost on Garoppolo that the situation Lance is in now is reminiscent of the one Garoppolo himself was in at the beginning of his career.
"It's kind of coming full circle," Garoppolo said during a radio appearance on Tuesday. "You go through this NFL career and you start as a young guy coming in. Tom [Brady] kind of showed me the ropes. The competition between us was awesome."
Jimmy G, of course, was a second-round pick of the New England Patriots. The plan was for him to sit behind Tom Brady until he was ready to play, and Brady was ready to call it a career. (We all know how that worked out for all involved.) Much like Brady played at a high-enough level that he held off Garoppolo and kept the job under center in New England, Garoppolo is motivated to do the same in San Francisco.
"The chip will always be there," Garoppolo said. "That hasn't gone away at all. Since I got in the league, I've had that. … It's kind of the way the league is going nowadays. Everybody is drafting young (and) wants to get the developmental guy and things like that. And so I kind of know what it is. I've been on both sides of it now but at the end of the day, all you can really ask for is the opportunity. Once you get that, you've got to take advantage of it."
At the same time, Garoppolo is going to do what he can to ease Lance's transition to the NFL and prepare him for life as the starter, should the day come where Lance usurps him in the lineup.
"I try to use my own personal experiences and just what I went through, what helped me, what challenged me as a young player," Garoppolo said. "And so I'm going to use those tools that helped me and try to help Trey out. It's hard to come into this league. I know how it was coming from an FCS school to the NFL. It's a bit of an adjustment, the speed … it's just different. So whatever I can do to help him, I'll be more than happy."