You’d think Steve Young would have about the best grasp of anyone outside the 49ers’ facility on the team’s quarterback situation.
But even the last quarterback to win a Super Bowl for San Francisco isn’t sure what to make of the Niners’ approach with veteran Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance.
Speaking pregame on ESPN, Young laid out the scenario as many Niners fans have over the last several weeks, wondering if there was sense to be made.
“Jimmy is beloved in the locker room and he’s not the guy. But he’s on the field and he’s playing but then we got the other guy waiting but he’s not ready — but when he’s ready it’s his,” Young said of Kyle Shanahan’s dilemma.
Shanahan has a tough situation on his hands, but it’s one of his own making after spending three first-round picks to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 and draft Lance.
With the 49ers at 3-5 midway through the season, one might assume it’s time to hand the offense over to Lance, but that’s not what has happened.
Lance saw the field for a handful of plays in the early season, then started last month in Arizona after Garoppolo injured his calf against the Seahawks. The rookie himself picked up a knee injury in the loss and was ruled out for the following game vs. the Colts, but he has not seen the field since.
Of course, Young himself was embroiled in a quarterback controversy that the 49ers eventually solved by trading Joe Montana to Kansas City in 1993.
But that situation was difficult for the Niners because they had two quarterbacks playing well and winning games. That’s not the situation for the current Niners.
“I mean, the NFL used to be where, you know, you’re in or you’re out — and that’s the tough spot. You can do this if everybody’s winning, or 5-1, 6-2, but (at) 3-5, it is fraught with terror and this locker room doesn’t know what’s next. I think that’s the problem.”
Young cited the 16 runs called for Lance in his lone start of the season as evidence that Shanahan doesn’t think the rookie is ready to take over.
“What happens when, if they lose tonight and the crowd will go crazy for Trey Lance and he comes in and he doesn’t play well, where are you as the 49ers?”
Despite his concerns and confusion, Young did not see that particular scenario playing out Monday night. Young picked his former team to beat the Rams on national TV and move to 4-5 on the season.