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ESPN analyst: 49ers’ move from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance an ‘unnecessary’ risk

Trey Lance handled QB1 duties throughout the spring as Jimmy Garoppolo recovered from March shoulder surgery but is hardly a proven commodity.

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When San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan announced 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance would be the team’s starting quarterback at the start of training camp, few were surprised.

While Garoppolo recovered from shoulder surgery in March, Lance was the starting quarterback for the entire season’s first half. The 22-year-old finished his rookie season completing 57.7 percent of his 71 passes for 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, and his “arm fitness” was routinely questioned by analysts and insiders throughout the offseason.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game in January and has a Super Bowl berth to his name thanks to his time with the team.

David Bonilla of 49ers WebZone reported that on Thursday’s episode of “Get Up,” former league executive and current ESPN personality Mike Tannenbaum was asked if the team was taking a chance by switching from Garoppolo to Lance so close to Super Bowl Sunday.

Indeed, and it’s a pointless one,” Tannenbaum agreed. “At quarterback, you have a great player in Jimmy Garoppolo, who has led your team to the Super Bowl and the [NFC] Championship Game in each of the last three seasons. Trey Lance has my undying adoration. The potential benefits he could bring are very appealing to me. But why take such an early chance by benching Jimmy Garoppolo when you have a winning team right now? Despite the fact that this is not a team statistic, they have a 70% winning percentage when Jimmy Garoppolo is in the lineup. That is significant to me. Their typical point total is 28. The importance of that to me cannot be overstated. His efficiency in that formation and with that group is undeniable. So, in the long run, Lance is a guy I like, but in the short run, I’m playing Jimmy Garoppolo.

Regarding Garoppolo and Lance’s near-term prospects, what’s done isn’t necessarily what’s done. Garoppolo’s base salary for 2022 is $24.2 million, but he will only be guaranteed to receive it if he is on the 49ers’ active roster at 4 p.m. ET on September 10. That means the 49ers can keep the 30-year-old on the roster as insurance in case Lance gets hurt before the trade deadline.

On Thursday, rumors surfaced that the Cleveland Browns were interested in signing Garoppolo. However, it is widely believed that the Browns would only pursue such a deal if they were to lose starting quarterback Deshaun Watson to a one-year suspension for allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

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