Wednesday, Ian Rapoport tweeted an update on the San Francisco backup quarterback battle, “#49ers QB Sam Darnold was named the team’s No. 2 QB, per me and @TomPelissero. He’ll be the backup to Brock Purdy to begin the season. This further puts the future of former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance in some doubt.” To refresh, San Francisco gave up the following to trade up in 2021 for Lance:
- 2021 1st-round pick
- 2022 1st-round pick
- 2023 1st-round pick
- 2022 3rd-round pick
It is applaudable that coach Shanahan is able to admit his mistakes and not double down on the decision, even with the high investment cost. Purdy and Darnold give the 49ers a cheap quarterback room, which will help the front office extend players needing new contracts. Dianna Russini added an interesting context when she tweeted, “While the 49ers are exploring trade possibilities for Trey Lance, the front office has been shopping him for much of the offseason, according to a league source. The team never received a significant trade offer.” All the national reporters seemed to unpack their respective notebooks with nuggets. Albert Breer tweeted an interesting thread, “A few things to know about the Trey Lance situation ... 1) Niners' call to take him in 2021 was based, in part, on Kyle Shanahan's desire to evolve his offense. So many teams run it now, defenses practice against it ... Taking Lance over Mac (Jones) opened up possibilities ... 2) The Niners planned to ride out bumps with Lance at QB in '22, with the idea that, by the end of the year, he'd grow into their best option, with what he really needed—reps. 3) Injury scrapped that. So he didn't get those reps—leaving him with 21 starts from '18-'23. 4) At this point, Niners are too good and have too good an option in Brock Purdy to risk games in the name of developing Lance. Which is a tough outcome, for sure, but the reality of the situation. 5) Hitting on Purdy changed things, giving SF what Mac might have.” Friday night when the news broke that the young quarterback was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2024 fourth-round pick. During the team’s game this past weekend, General Manager John Lynch was on the broadcast and said, “We took a shot, and it didn’t work out. We own that. We take accountability for it. I’m excited for Trey.” It’s great to see a team avoid the trap of sunk cost, as the 49ers paid Lance almost $28 million for 262 game snaps. So, Dallas will pay Lance $5 million next season and have the right to extend him in 2025. This is a solid move for the Cowboys as they get a cheap look at a potential star quarterback. Lance is talented, just raw. He now gets a chance to sit and learn behind an established veteran. If he improves mightily, Lance will be worth much more than a day-three pick in a trade. There is also the possibility of Dallas getting a solid compensation pick after letting Lance walk in free agency after the 2024 season.
In an unsurprising move, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur announced that rookie Sean Clifford will back up Jordan Love. Clifford has played very well this preseason and is now positioned to either be the long-term backup or emerge once Love leaves in free agency.
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