How NFL world is reacting to 49ers’ Trey Lance QB decision originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The 49ers can’t seem to avoid any kind of quarterback controversy.
San Francisco has been the talk of the NFL world this week, and for reasons beyond any action on the field. Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Sam Darnold won the backup quarterback job over Trey Lance on Wednesday, causing league-wide uproar ever since.
Here’s a glimpse of how the national media has reacted to the events that unfolded in Santa Clara this week.
Fox Sports 1’s Nick Wright was extremely critical of the 49ers organization in how they handled the Lance situation.
“The process for the San Francisco 49ers over the last three years regarding Trey Lance has been the most ridiculous, unprofessional, disorganized I’ve ever seen in pro sports,” Wright said Wednesday on “The Herd.”
The 49ers gave up three first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to move up to the No. 3 spot in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Lance.
Lance’s first season as the official starter was wiped away following a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 of the 2022 season, and he had to watch from the sidelines as Jimmy Garoppolo and then eventually Brock Purdy take over and succeed him. Two years after franchise player expectations, Lance has fallen to third-string quarterback.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick believes someone in the 49ers organization should be held accountable for the costly trade.
“That’s enough said right there. Enough said,” Riddick said on ESPN after breaking down the draft compensation that San Francisco surrendered to acquire Lance. “Now, that same guy is now your third quarterback, and now has lost his job to Mr. Irrelevant, lost his job to another former first-round pick that has now supplanted him as the number two quarterback, who, if you remember, we talked about in the offseason, as someone there had told me, ‘Don’t be surprised if Sam Darnold flourishes in this offense.’
“That’s a huge miss, especially considering this — remember before the ’21 draft, when there was a lot of speculation about who it was exactly that Kyle Shanahan was moving up from 12 to three to get? Remember all the talk about it being Mac Jones and then it switching to Trey Lance? And then there was a lot of speculation about, internally, there was disagreement about who the people wanted, who exactly wanted who, who did the coaches want versus who did the scouting department want.
“Well, this right now is going to be something that’s going to be dissected internally in San Francisco because you cannot do that,” Riddick continued. “I don’t care what Brock Purdy has returned to you. You can’t do that and not have some people have to answer for that.”
ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark also believes San Francisco should receive more criticism for the trade, saying the 49ers made a “bad decision” in drafting Lance.
Given all that the 49ers gave up to draft Lance just to slide him down the depth chart, many, like Clark, believe this could be the worst trade in NFL history.
But NFL sportscaster Rich Eisen doesn’t believe so because the draft is such a “crapshoot” and neither Shanahan nor Lynch will lose their job over it.
The Athletic’s Jim Trotter won’t give up on Lance on the single fact that the quarterback hasn’t had enough opportunity to showcase what he can — or can’t — do.
Trotter believes Lance’s situation exemplifies the NFL’s “need for a developmental league.”
“His inexperience is the reason I’m unwilling to give up on him, and his situation is why I believe even more firmly that the NFL needs some type of minor-league system that allows unproven players to get needed game reps that could help their development as well as the evaluation process,” Trotter wrote.
ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky believes Lance has to get out of the Bay in order to truly develop in the league.
“Self-doubt becomes a very real thing,” Orlovsky said Thursday on “NFL Live.” “Not only do you start to doubt yourself, but you have other people doubting you that hand-selected you. If I was Trey Lance, I want out. I’m in career-preservation mode.
“What’s the one thing we say about Trey right now? He hasn’t played. I’m not playing in San Francisco. I’m not getting any reps in San Francisco, so how am I going to get better? You have to get me out of San Francisco. … Trey Lance is not going to become a better player in San Francisco this year. So for the hope of his career, and the hope of him somehow getting better, he has to do everything he can to get to a new home and get out of San Francisco.”
After Shanahan broke the news to Lance on Wednesday, both sides agreed it was best if the quarterback took the day off. But Shanahan and Lynch said they expect Lance to play Friday in San Francisco’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers, after Purdy and Darnold.
All eyes will be on Lance as he hopes to prove he has what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. His opportunities are limited, so he’ll try to make the most of them when he gets them.
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