If Kyle Shanahan Had It His Way – He Wouldn’t Be Coaching Trey Lance Right Now

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As the 2022 NFL season is set to kickoff in less than a week, the 49ers will start a quarterback that has completed less than 60 passes the past 3 years. The last time Trey Lance was a full-time starter was in the 2019 season at North Dakota State. It was an impressive season, Lance scored 42 total touchdowns and threw 0 interceptions, while rushing for over 1,000 yards. He created serious hype as a duel-threat prospect at the quarterback position.


In the weeks leading up to the 2021 Draft, a few things were clear. The 49ers decided Jimmy Garoppolo, at the time, still in his 20s was no longer good enough to be the future answer at quarterback.

This was after the team made him the highest paid player in NFL history in 2018 with a 5-year, $137.5 million deal.

The team soured on Garoppolo because he simply wasn’t what it expected. He has some accuracy but not a lot, he has some mobility, but not enough, he has some arm talent but not much. He’s simply not a special quarterback. He’s just good enough that on a loaded team with great coaching he can manage you to wins and the 49ers have had both. Unfortunately Garopplo is brittle and injury prone. He has missed at least one game to injury in all but one season on the team.

Also, there’s this – Former teammate Martellus Bennet: “You can’t win with a bitch for a quarterback.”

At the 2021 Draft, the 49ers held the third pick following a trade to make sure they’ll secure one of the top quarterback prospects. The general consensus had: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance as the top 5 options. With Lawrence the leader and the other four mostly at even levels.

The immediate reaction around the league was that 49ers coach, Kyle Shanahan, will be picking Alabama quarterback and eventual NFL Pro-Bowler (as a rookie) Mac Jones because Kyle places emphasis on accuracy and quick decision making.

However people on social media then voiced an opinion and they spoke loudly. Mac Jones was just another not exciting looking prospect, similar to Jimmy Garoppolo. Someone that isn’t a duel-threat, doesn’t have a strong arm and doesn’t display a top-notch upside. He just doesn’t look the part of top-5 pick in a Draft.

Compared to Trey Lance, who’s packs a bazooka for an arm and 4.5 wheels, Jones felt like a pedestrian. And as the Draft came closer, people in the building reportedly forced Shanahan to change his mind and pick upside over high floor and the team drafted Lance. Kyle recently spoke about how close it came on the I Am Athlete podcast.

The 49ers have now turned the keys to the house to Lance now that Garoppolo reworked his contract. However, Lance is the same quarterback they preferred to keep on the bench throughout the playoffs last season when Garoppolo was dealing with calf, shoulder and thumb injuries.

Both the shoulder and thumb injuries required offseason surgery. Garoppolo was clearly not 100% on the field, and yet, playing a fully healthy Lance didn’t cross their minds.

Was it a lack of trust? maybe. Was he simply not ready to take over and now after another NFL offseason he is? maybe.

Is it simply that the team traded up and ended up using three 1st round picks to get Lance and keeping him on the bench for another year would be a massive waste of resources? probably.

Kyle Shanahan Wanted To Sign Free-Agent Tom Brady

If it was completely up to Kyle, Tom Brady would be attempting to win his next Super Bowl with the team he grew up watching. As former NFL General Manger Michael Lombardi stated on the Pat McAfee show, when Brady hit free-agency in 2020, Kyle Shanahan wanted to sign him and the only reason he’s not a 49er today, is because people in the building once again talked Kyle out of doing so.

As 49ers fans, along with the rest of the NFL, watched 43-year old Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in that 2020 season, I’m sure the thought of “I screwed this up.” came to Kyle Shanahan’s mind. Which begs the question, why did he let other voices impact his decisions once again when he picked Trey Lance over Mac Jones? The same Mac Jones that helped take a losing Patriots team in 2020 to the playoffs in 2021.

Some may wonder if Brady’s lack of mobility could’ve worked with Shanahan’s offense. It’s worth mentioning that Kyle coached up slow-footed Matt Ryan into an MVP in the 2016 season. A season that ended with Brady coming back down 28-3 against Shanahan in Super Bowl LI. Mobility isn’t essential to that offense, accuracy, reading the defense and making correct quick decisions is, and Brady is the best of all-time in all of those.

The 49ers have their quarterback starting Week 1, but it isn’t necessarily the one Kyle Shanahan had his sight on, not once, but twice.

Written by Dov Kleiman

NFL reporter covering the league for 6 years for various outlets but mostly independently. Football guy's guy.

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