As anticipated within certain circles, and subject to fervent dispute elsewhere, Trey Lance has now assumed the third-string position on the 49ers’ depth chart. The pressing query revolves around whether the 49ers will retain him or explore trade possibilities.
Eventually, the 49ers and Garoppolo struck an agreement that kept both player and team aligned. By Week 2, when Lance suffered an ankle injury, he once again ascended from QB2 to QB1.
This year, the 49ers have promoted last year’s QB3, Brock Purdy, as their current QB1, while newcomer Sam Darnold has secured the backup role.
While there’s a reasonable argument for the 49ers to retain Lance due to the lessons of 2022, where their third-stringer became essential, Coach Kyle Shanahan might consider assigning that role to Brandon Allen.
During the early stages of training camp, Shanahan pondered the possibility of carrying four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, as he mentioned to Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle. However, when queried about this during a press conference, Shanahan’s response was, “Yeah, I have no idea. Well, you know, various scenarios are always possible.
Yet, I’m genuinely looking forward to strapping on the pads tomorrow and diving deeper into the football action. With the kickoff roughly 30 days away, let’s watch as events naturally take shape.”
The roster trim from 90 to 53 is now just a week away, narrowing the window for deciding whether to trade Lance or retain four quarterbacks post-reduction.
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The decision to trade him hinges on finding a trade partner willing to offer a value deemed satisfactory. Leaving aside the question of their expectations for a player for whom they invested three first-round picks and a third-round pick, the inquiry remains: Who would be interested in Lance?
During the Scouting Combine, rumors circulated about a possible trade involving the Vikings, wherein Kirk Cousins and Trey Lance might swap positions. With no contractual arrangement beyond 2023, the Vikings might seek to acquire Lance for development toward 2024.
Lance also presents potential as a capable backup, particularly for teams with mobile quarterbacks. The Bills, for instance, have been running a competition for Josh Allen’s understudy.
Similarly, in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are choosing between Blaine Gabbert and Shane Buechele, Lance’s development could find a fitting ground.
The 49ers might bide their time through the upcoming preseason games, waiting for any potential injuries that could shift demand. Should a starter from a contender team face a season-ending injury, an unexpected demand for Lance might emerge.
In any case, a fundamental truth has come to light: Shanahan values Darnold more highly than Lance. If Allen also ranks higher in Shanahan’s perspective, it appears to be the right time for Lance to depart, and for the 49ers to reconcile with the cost of their acquisition and maximize their return.