After months of speculation over how the cards will fall in San Francisco with regards to its signal-callers, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice gave his thoughts as to the future of the 49ers quarterback room.
Rice talked with NFL Network’s MJ Acosta-Ruiz on NFL Total Access on Thursday about Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in San Francisco and Trey Lance’s status as starter, and said that however this ends up playing out for the 49ers, some resolution must be found by the start of the season so they can move past the uncertainty.
“I don’t know what the Niners are going to do with Jimmy G and Trey Lance. I know one thing: We don’t want that carousel of back-and-forth during the season,” Rice said. “I think you have to name someone as the starter, you have to go with that individual and then you build around that quarterback.”
Lance was chosen No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft with the assumption that he would be the future of the 49ers at QB. But he played only sparingly in his rookie campaign and struggled when he was on the field. So, his first year was spent learning and gaining experience as the second-string QB, while Garoppolo led the 49ers all the way to the NFC championship despite injuries. But with Lance waiting in the wings with a year of practice under his belt, and Garoppolo coming off major shoulder surgery, the general consensus has been that the veteran’s time with San Francisco is over, and it’s time for Lance to take over the starting job . Rice said from what he’s seen, Lance is ready to step into the limelight and take over the QB duties.
“Jimmy G had some good games, Jimmy G had some bad games, and it’s unfortunate he’s now hurt, but Trey Lance is raring to go,” Rice said. “He has that strong arm, he had that mobility, he can throw the ball deep, but he brings a dimension to the game where he’s able to extend plays, so defensive coordinators are going to have to plan for that.”
While Lance is largely untested on the NFL level, starting just two games and worked just 59.6% of his passes, Rice said he’s seen the potential in Lance’s game when they out with each other. And he believes that with the continued support of his teammates and a bit more practice, he’ll have a very high ceiling once Week 1 comes around.
“The sky’s the limit for him, to be honest,” Rice said. “I was shooting a commercial with him … and I was running routes for him. It didn’t take me long to be on the same page with him, he’s got that rocket arm, but he’s also got that mobility and that vision where he can extend plays and throw the ball downfield. So I’m sure with repetitions on the field, the players really just building around him, he’s going to have a successful year this year.”