San Francisco 49ers

John Lynch on Trey Lance: ‘The best way to develop is to play’

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has made it clear over the course of the 2021 season: he wants Jimmy Garoppolo as his starting quarterback. This was especially evident after Garoppolo hurt his wrist in San Francisco’s loss to the Titans last week.

Shanahan stuck with Garoppolo even though he was having a rough game and the 49es have the No. 3 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, QB Trey Lance, waiting on the sidelines for his big chance to play — and possibly take the starting job for good.

With Garoppolo’s injury worse than the 49ers let on, it does now appear that Lance will play this week against the Texans. But did general manager John Lynch want Lance to get his shot earlier in the season? It’s impossible to know, but something Lynch said while on the air at KNBR makes it seem that way, at least a little bit.

On one hand, this seems like an odd statement. Lynch says that Lance has developed at a “tremendous” rate this year at practice. But Lynch goes on to say that the best way to develop is to be on the field on game day.

On the other hand, Lynch may have just taken two “cliché” lines and put them next to each other haphazardly without thinking. It’s conventional wisdom that players improve at practice and it’s also conventional wisdom that players develop the best by playing.

So call it John-Lynch speak, if you will. There’s one thing everyone associated with the 49ers has in common this week, however. All of their eyes will be trained on Lance, the 49ers’ top pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Will he be great? Or will he be a mistake made by Lynch and Shanahan? The best — and only — way to know is for him to play. Maybe that’s what Lynch was trying to say.

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