Trey Lance

Trey Lance Dealt With Finger Injury Throughout 2021 Season

Trey Lance did not seriously push Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers’ starting job last season, with the elder quarterback keeping it despite multiple injury issues. A Lance injury problem looks to have contributed to his low-key rookie year.

Although the 49ers undoubtedly wanted to slow-play it with the unique prospect — a Division I-FCS talent who played one full season of college football — Lance said this week he did not get over his finger injury sustained during the preseason. Lance suffered a chipped bone in his right index finger during the 49ers’ preseason finale, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. That injury did not heal until after the season.

The North Dakota State product said that index finger remained bent until after the fracture finally healed, noting that it did not straighten until around February. While Lance faced a steep learning curve, this injury undoubtedly hindered him during an erratic rookie year in which he completed 57.7% of his passes. Garoppolo, who suffered a calf strain early in the season, stayed on the field despite late-season injuries to his right thumb and right shoulder, the latter of which leading to a surgery that has altered his trade market.

I think the finger for me was the biggest thing just as far as throwing the ball,” Lance said, via Branch. “I kind of had to learn how to throw the ball differently without using my pointer finger, I guess, just because of where [the injury] was at throughout the year.”

Only three quarterbacks chosen in the top three this century have started two or fewer games as rookies, with Lance joining JaMarcus Russell (two) and Michael Vick (one) in that regard. The expectation certainly is for Lance (two 2021 starts) to see much more time in 2022.

John Lynch has said Lance should be ready to take over this season, and with Garoppolo recovering from shoulder surgery and having been on the trade block for several months, the 21-year-old passer has a clear avenue toward doing so. Still, both Lynch and Kyle Shanahan hedging on a potential Garoppolo trade reopen the door to the 30-year-old veteran coming to training camp and potentially keeping his job.

This would be a financially difficult route for the 49ers, with Garoppolo’s $26.9MM cap number impacting the team’s ability to negotiate extensions with Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel. While Garoppolo would represent expensive (but potentially necessary) Lance insurance, a healthier version of Lance is poised to take the reins as an NFL sophomore.

49ers Notes: Lance, Tart, Mitchell, McGlinchey

In a wild offseason which has seen a number of sizable quarterback trades, one of the most significant storylines has to do with a move which hasn’t taken place. With almost (if not every) 2022 starting QB spot already spoken for, Jimmy Garoppolo remains on San Francisco, something which may not change for the foreseeable future. General manager John Lynch pushed back against reports that, even if he is retained, Garoppolo will cede the starting job to 2020 first-rounder Trey Lance.

All these reports, I don’t know where they all come from” Lynch said, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports. “We always believe in competition, but at the same time we are great believers in what [Lance] brings to the table. We believe he is ready. He is going to have to show that. I think he’s ready to show that to us, show that to his teammates, and show that to the world.”

Garoppolo has been thought to be on the trading block since the 49ers traded up to select Lance third overall last year. It came as no surprise that the veteran openly discussed a future destination other than San Francisco after the season ended, but shoulder surgery has complicated his trade market, which was already weighed down by his $26.9MM cap number for 2022. Even if Garoppolo does stay with the team into the fall, Lynch’s remarks still point to Lance at least having the inside track for the No. 1 role.

Here are some other notes out of the Bay Area:

  • The team’s secondary has undergone plenty of change this offseason, and it appears at least one safety spot will look different come next year. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Jaquiski Tartt “isn’t expected to return”. The 30-year-old has spent all seven of his NFL seasons with the 49ers, but the team has done homework on a number of secondary prospects, including Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker, Branch notes.
  • Running back Elijah Mitchell said yesterday that he underwent a minor procedure on his knee this offseason (Twitter link via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury). A sixth-round pick last year, Mitchell enjoyed a productive rookie campaign, totalling 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. He added that he will “definitely” be ready for training camp.
  • The same will likely be true of right tackle Mike McGlinchey. The 27-year-old suffered a season-ending quadriceps tear in November. As Branch notes (on Twitter), however, the former top-10 pick expects to have recovered in time for the summer.

49ers CEO: Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance Can Coexist For Second Season

John Lynch said this week the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo plan has changed. The team hoped to unload its longtime starter after the bigger quarterback dominoes fell, but Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery and a shrinking market has this situation at a standstill.

The 49ers do not plan to release Garoppolo, though the team ($1.8MM in cap space) is limited by carrying his $26.9MM cap number on the books. His salary does not become locked in until the vested-veteran guarantee date just before Week 1. That gives the 49ers time, but they are now no longer ruling out a second season with Garoppolo and Trey Lance on the roster.

It’s professional sports. If Steve Young can sit on the bench for four seasons — Steve Young is a Hall of Famer,” 49ers CEO Jed York said, via NBC Sports’ Jennifer Lee Chan. “If he is willing to do it, and he has the competitive will to do it, why can’t somebody else?

I think those two drove each other in the late ’80s and early ’90s to be the best that they could possibly be. If that’s the situation that we have and that’s what is created, sign me up for that problem any day.”

This refers to the 49ers’ four-year setup in which Young backed up Joe Montana, who held off the younger passer’s challenges for the job. The two flipped roles after injuries sidelined Montana in 1991, prior to a 1993 Montana trade to the Chiefs. The two Hall of Fame-bound QBs were on San Francisco’s roster together for six seasons. A Garoppolo-Lance competition obviously resides nowhere near the skill level the Montana-Young late-’80s battles did, but York mentioning the two passers vying for the job is interesting considering where San Francisco’s QB outlook stood after the NFC championship game.

Lance has received the impression the 2022 starting job will be his, and Garoppolo was openly discussing trade destinations in February. Should Garoppolo remain with the team into training camp, Lance’s grip on the job could loosen. The Division I-FCS prospect did not usurp an injury-plagued Garoppolo last season, but the latter’s right shoulder rehab will allow for the former No. 3 overall pick to receive extensive offseason reps. Garoppolo would be an expensive insurance policy, but with the 49ers coming off their second NFL championship appearance in three years, turning the keys over to an untested QB will bring risk. It does not look like this saga will conclude for a while.

Latest On 49ers’ Quarterback Situation

While the Browns hope to unload Baker Mayfield soon, the 49ers are content to slow-play a Jimmy Garoppolo trade. San Francisco is prepared to go through free agency with Garoppolo’s $26.9MM cap number on its books, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com noting the veteran QB’s market has not taken off.

The 49ers holding onto Garoppolo for several more weeks could give them a chance to further assess Trey Lance‘s readiness to take the reins for a contending team. But it does not appear the team views Garoppolo as a 2022 insurance plan. Lance has been given the impression he will take over as San Francisco’s full-time starter next season, Fowler adds, with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch also noting Garoppolo will almost certainly be gone by Week 1.

Garoppolo, 30, joins Mayfield in having seen several QB1 slots filled by long-term options or bridge players. Teams are also concerned about Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery, which is set to sideline him until the summer. The Colts did not engage in particularly serious Garoppolo discussions, Fowler adds. Indianapolis was linked to Jameis Winston and, to some degree, Mayfield before moving to Matt Ryan.

This report seems to contradict a Tuesday indication the 49ers have received an offer of two second-round picks for Garoppolo. That haul, which would match the one the Chiefs gave the 49ers for Alex Smith in 2013, would likely satisfy San Francisco. A Mayfield-to-Carolina path has all but closed, while the Seahawks are still on the radar for the supplanted Cleveland starter. The Seahawks are unlikely to acquire Garoppolo, being an NFC West team.

San Francisco holds less than $4MM in cap space, so a Garoppolo trade would benefit the franchise, which already cleared nearly $20MM in space to allow for prior deals to be finalized. The team’s plans to extend Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa would also come into focus post-Garoppolo, with Lance tied to his rookie deal through 2024.

QB Rumors: 49ers, Wilson, Winston, Texans

Of the starting quarterbacks mentioned in trade rumors, Jimmy Garoppolo looms as the likeliest candidate to move. The five-year 49ers starter saying as much and having talked to his general manager about a potential destination is a fairly clear indicator of a move. However, Garoppolo being dealt is not a certainty. Trey Lance has a long way to go in his climb toward being a reliable starter, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com said during an interview with Pro Football Focus’ Ari Meirov (via SI.com). The 21-year-old Division I-FCS alum was “further away than people realized” this past season, Schefter adds, noting Garoppolo remains well-liked in San Francisco’s locker room. While it would be a surprise if the 49ers kept Garoppolo, the prospect of him playing out his contract and keeping Lance in developmental mode in 2022 did surface last summer.

The statuses of Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins may put the 49ers in a good spot regarding a Garoppolo trade offer, however. The QB trade market drying up would lead to more Garoppolo interest; as of now, the 49ers are seeking a Day 2 pick and change in a trade. They would need to weigh offers, Lance’s readiness and the prospect of a third-round 2024 compensatory pick — for Garoppolo’s 2023 free agency exit — in this equation.

Here is the latest from the quarterback rumor circuit:

  • Wilson has said he wants to stay with the Seahawks, but coming out of a disappointing season, the veteran quarterback has also been connected to exploring his options to see if another team could give him opportunities his current one cannot. For the time being, owner Jody Allen is behind keeping Wilson, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. It is unclear how much Allen supports ensuring the perennial Pro Bowler stays in Washington, and given Wilson’s value at age 33 and with two years left on his contract, Breer does expect a trade to eventually happen. After Rodgers makes his intentions known, this will be the top QB situation to monitor.
  • The Saints used four starting quarterbacks last season and have their preferred 2021 starter on track for free agency. Jameis Winston is coming off an ACL tear and might again need a prove-it season. Many around the league expect the Saints to again provide that opportunity, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com writes. New Orleans is once again in its own league for cap purposes, being more than $75MM over the projected 2022 cap. Winston coming back on a low salary would help the Saints, even if the seven-year veteran would represent another stopgap year post-Drew Brees.
  • The Texans are behind Davis Mills as their starter, but they are interested in keeping Tyrod Taylor around. Taylor impressed Houston’s coaching staff during his first Texans season, Fowler adds. Taylor signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal to work as a starter during Deshaun Watson‘s time away from the team. Mills supplanted Taylor, continuing a familiar routine for the ex-Bills starter, but it sounds like his relationship with new OC Pep Hamilton — Taylor’s position coach with the Chargers in 2020 — is solid enough it could well lead to another year of QB2 work in Houston.

Latest On 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo

Jan. 2: Lance will indeed get the second start of his career, as Garoppolo will miss the Niners’ Week 17 contest against the Texans and will require offseason surgery on his injured thumb, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. That does not preclude Garoppolo from suiting up for the club’s Week 18 bout with the Rams, though if San Francisco should qualify for the playoffs today — which will happen if it defeats Houston and New Orleans loses to Carolina — Lance would presumably start the regular season finale as well.

The surgery should not have much of an impact on Garoppolo’s trade market this offseason, but his sustaining an injury at a critical juncture underscores why the 49ers made the bold move to acquire Lance in the first place and why they plan to trade Garoppolo in the coming months.

Dec. 31: The 49ers have listed Jimmy Garoppolo as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Texans, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets. But, for what it’s worth, head coach Kyle Shanahan says he’s still “holding out hope” for Garoppolo being able to start.

[RELATED: 49ers Plan To Trade Jimmy Garoppolo In Offseason]

Garoppolo is dealing with a Grade 3 sprain, rather than a fracture, according to Shanahan. That at least gives the quarterback some chance of suiting up as the Niners push for a postseason berth.

I’ve been told he does not need surgery right now,” said Shanahan (Twitter link via Cam Inman of the East Bay Times). “To clear that up, (sprain) is way it was worded to me, he has a Grade III sprain. Reason they never mentioned to me a fracture it doesn’t have much to do with the sprain; it pulled off a fleck of the bone.”

Garoppolo suffered the injury during the second quarter of Thursday’s game, a 20-17 loss to the Titans. If he can’t go this week, rookie Trey Lance will be in line for his start No. 2, his first since Week 5.

So far this year, Garoppolo gone 8-6 in 14 starts, completing 68% of his throws for 3,494 yards and 19 touchdowns against ten interceptions. Lance, meanwhile, went 15-of-29 for 192 yards and one INT in his start, a low-scoring loss to the Cardinals.

The Niners control their own destiny in the Wild Card race, so wins over the Texans and Rams would punch their ticket to the playoffs.

49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo Has Torn Ligament In Thumb

Jimmy Garoppolo reportedly suffered a thumb sprain during Thursday’s loss to the Titans, but the injury may be worse than initially thought. One source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Garoppolo suffered “a more significant injury” than a sprain, putting his availability for Sunday’s game against the Texans in doubt. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the 49ers QB suffered a chipped bone and torn ligament in his right thumb, but there’s still hope that he’ll be able to play this weekend. Schefter clarifies (on Twitter) that it’s a UCL tear for Garoppolo.

[RELATED: 49ers Plan To Trade Jimmy Garoppolo In Offseason]

“It’s a thumb sprain, so I think you guys know how those are,” coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier today. “It didn’t feel great today, wasn’t able to throw today and we’ll see how it is on Wednesday. Hopefully it will get better.”

According to the head coach, Garoppolo suffered the injury during the second quarter of Thursday’s game. The QB ended up throwing an interception on the first drive of the second half, his second pick of the game. Garoppolo missed Monday’s practice, with rookie Trey Lance taking the spot atop the depth chart. Garoppolo is set to be reevaluated on Wednesday.

After the 49ers gave up a bounty to select Lance with the third-overall pick, the 30-year-old Garoppolo has had a bounce-back season in San Francisco. The starter has gone 8-6 in 14 starts, completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,494 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Lance got a start back in Week 5, completing 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 192 yards and one interception in a loss to the Cardinals.

49ers Plan To Trade Jimmy Garoppolo In Offseason

The future of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has once again become a talking point, though this time it’s due to his stretch of quality play as opposed to an injury or the presence of rookie passer Trey Lance. Over his last four games, three of which have resulted in wins, Garoppolo has posted QB ratings of 100.6, 100.6, 141.7, and 126.3, throwing for six TDs against just one interception.

He has helped the Niners crawl back into the NFC playoff race, and he has missed just one full game this year due to injury. With Lance struggling in his one start this year, many have wondered whether San Francisco might consider keeping Garoppolo for 2022, the final year of his current contract.

Earlier this week, head coach Kyle Shanahan sort of left the door open for a Garoppolo return next season, though he was adamant that Lance is still the team’s long-term play at QB. And as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported this morning, the 49ers — barring a Super Bowl run — will seek to trade Garoppolo this offseason, thereby clearing the path for Lance (video link). That is, of course, in line with what we have heard since Lance was drafted.

So Garoppolo’s recent run is not only keeping the team in the postseason picture, it is also increasing the return that San Francisco will realize in an offseason trade. The 30-year-old passer does have a no-trade clause, and his performance makes it more likely that a team he wants to play for will be involved in the bidding for him, which makes it a win-win proposition for him and the 49ers. Matt Barrows of The Athletic, who also believes the 49ers’ preferred course of action is to trade Garoppolo, says that such a deal will likely include some sort of extension or reworked contract with the acquiring club.

If Garoppolo should start to struggle or get hurt again, the Niners could still release him and save $25.6MM against the cap, but they would obviously prefer to swing a trade and net draft pick compensation. Garoppolo will battle former Shanahan pupil and would-be 49er Kirk Cousins in this afternoon’s key matchup with the surging Vikings.

49ers To Start Jimmy Garoppolo In Week 7

Jimmy Garoppolo will return to a starting role for the 49ers this week. The fifth-year 49er is off the team’s injury report and good to go for Sunday night’s game against the Colts.

Trey Lance will not suit up due to the knee sprain he sustained in Week 5. San Francisco’s bye week allowed Garoppolo to recover in time to become the rare incumbent to recapture his job from a rookie-year first-rounder. Though these situations usually end with the younger talent taking over for good, Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo would keep his job when healthy.

A high ankle sprain felled Garoppolo midway through last season, and he did not return. This year’s calf ailment proved to be milder, and Garoppolo will come back after missing just one game. The 30-year-old veteran — after being mentioned in trades during the offseason and viewed as a lame duck after the 49ers traded two future first-rounders for Lance — will have an interesting opportunity to submit a case he remains the best option for the 49ers to reach their 2021 ceiling.

Garoppolo is unlikely to have his top offensive lineman available, however. The 49ers declared Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams doubtful for Week 7 due to ankle and elbow injuries.

Jimmy Garoppolo Will Remain 49ers’ Starting QB When Healthy

Trey Lance will get the start at quarterback for the 49ers today in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Garoppolo will get his job back as soon as he is healthy enough. The Niners hope that will happen when they return from their Week 6 bye to take on the Colts in Week 7.

Although San Francisco obviously selected Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft with the hopes that he would be the long-term solution at quarterback, head coach Kyle Shanahan has made it clear ever since Lance was drafted that Garoppolo would remain the club’s starter in the near-term, and perhaps even through the 2022 season (though that would certainly qualify as a surprise).

When recently asked about the possibility of getting Lance more involved in the offense, Shanahan said, “There’s not a quarterback battle right now. We’re going with [Garoppolo] who I think is playing very well. I’m happy that he is so Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early.”

At the time Shanahan made that statement, the 49ers had just lost their first game of the season, a narrow defeat to the Packers that dropped them to 2-1 on the season. But they followed that up with a loss to the Seahawks last week, a game in which Garoppolo sustained the calf injury that limited him to one half of play and that is keeping him on the sidelines this week. Though he threw a TD pass on the Niners’ first drive of the Seattle contest, Garoppolo struggled to get anything going during the rest of his time on the field.

For the season, the soon-to-be 30-year-old has completed 66.1% of his passes for five TDs and two interceptions, good for a 96.2 QB rating. After replacing Garoppolo against the Seahawks, Lance threw a 76-yard TD strike to Deebo Samuel, but he was unable to cross midfield again until there was just 1:20 left in the game. He ultimately completed nine of 18 passes for 157 yards and two scores.

Of course, if the North Dakota State product impresses today, Shanahan could change his tune in a hurry. But if Lance should struggle, then look for Garoppolo to be reinserted into the starting lineup in two weeks’ time.