To say that the San Francisco 49ers have been searching for an answer at quarterback for several seasons now would be an understatement. Despite a stretch of defensive play that always makes them a playoff threat, they’ve been one signal-caller away from a championship.
That’s not to say they haven’t tried to fill the spot since the infamous Colin Kaepernick situation went down back in 2016. Seven different quarterbacks have started in the seven seasons that have followed, with various degrees of success. Signing Jimmy Garoppolo as a free agent and drafting Trey Lance with the third-overall pick in 2021 didn’t seem to provide clear solutions either.
To be fair, Jimmy G did lead the squad to a 13-3 record in 2019, eventually losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super LIV. However, he’s never been able to show that he can remain consistently healthy. Meanwhile, Lance is unproven.
Enter Mr. Irrelevant.
The last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy went from third-stringer to savior as he helped guide the Niners to the NFC Championship game. He would get injured, as was every other San Francisco quarterback by midway through the game, and the team basically just played out the clock in a loss.
Purdy had off-season surgery but is expected to be back and be the frontrunner ahead of Lance in training camp. Garopplo has departed for the Las Vegas desert and the Raiders, so it would make sense. However, it’s now looking like San Fran may be looking to move on from Trey Lance as well. At least, according to a few NFL experts. They signed Sam Darnold hoping he can be a solid #2.
So essentially, Coach Kyle Shanahan has put the keys to the offense in the hands of Purdy – a player most people had never heard of before the 2022 NFL season.
If it all goes down, there are a handful of teams expected to make a play for Lance. Most likely as a backup… but stranger things have happened in the National Football League.
Here are three teams that could be the frontrunners to try and trade for Trey Lance
#1 – Minnesota Vikings
For a guy who led the Vikings to a 13-4 record and an NFC North title, Kirk Cousins sure doesn’t get much respect. He never did in Washington, and it’s been nearly as bad in Minnesota, where there have been reports that he might be available for trade. Lance’s name has been one of those mentioned as a part of a potential package, as he’s believed to have been coveted by the Vikings front office since the ‘Niners drafted him.
These aren’t just whispers blowing in the wind, either. NFL insiders have frequently stated that a trade could be in the works since the end of the team’s postseason run, which saw them lose to the That chatter picked up as recently as this week. Some of that revolves around Cousins’ contract, which runs through 2024. He will be on the books for a $28.5 million cap hit in its final year.
“At this year’s Scouting Combine, there were rumors of a potential Kirk Cousins trade from Minnesota to San Francisco. Those rumors may have come from the reality that the 49ers and Vikings had discussions about another quarterback ” — Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk
Even still, there’s the possibility that Cousins could remain with the Vikings and act as a mentor, eventually handing duties off to Lance as the future franchise quarterback. This one is a bit of a head-scratcher here, as it’s hard to imagine that Head Coach Kevin O’Connell will want to mess with a good thing. His team will be favored to repeat as division winners, so a major change isn’t really necessary unless Cousins goes down with an injury.
#2 – Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson‘s first season in the Mile High City was a strange and frustrating one, to put it mildly. After so many glory years and a Super Bowl Championship in Seattle, it was believed that he could lead the Broncos to another championship when he arrived last offseason.
However, the dual-threat quarterback has been mired by bad protection and bad play. He had a couple of sideline blowups and his team finished at 4-11. Just an absolute disaster of an initial outing, and there’s not much to say about Wilson’s stats, either. In 15 games, he threw for just over 3,500 yards. His scoring numbers were paltry: 16 touchdowns to go along with 11 interceptions.
Of course, any time a team comes off a freefall year like that, the fan base is looking to blame two people: the coach and the quarterback. Many fans in the Rocky Mountain region are starting to question whether or not the former Seahawk was the right man for the job.
Denver is a long way from returning to The Big Game. So, are they prepared to give up on Russ, and go with a younger signal-caller? Could Trey Lance be the key to a new era in Denver?
#3 – Detroit Lions
Jared Goff has led a 49ers team to the Super Bowl and a resurgence in The Motor City. Even still, his inconsistency over the course of his career continues to plague him. While many Lions’ fans (and apparently the coaching staff) have been convinced that he’s finally a franchise quarterback, he’s still got his detractors.
Is Goff the guy who played with so much poise down the stretch? Or, will he always be one of those up-and-down guys who always go from awesome to average without warning?
Heading into the NFL Draft, some fans of the Silver & Blue are even rooting for the team to use the sixth overall pick to bring in his replacement (Ironically, this is one of the selections that came in a trade along with Goff from the 49ers in exchange for Matthew Stafford in 2021).
When Lance’s name came up, there was discussion on social media and among those who follow the squad that they could be interested. It depends on Coach Dan Campbell’s long-term perspective on Goff. It’s pretty obvious that the goal of the new regime is to not only win… but bring a winning culture to the franchise.
So the biggest question on whether or not Goff will remain at the helm in Detroit is this: Is he the man who can finally lead the team and the city to its first Super Bowl title? If so, then there’s no doubt that Trey Lance won’t be pulling into the Motor City.
Main Image: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports