Trey Lance’s leadership on display as he welcomes 49ers rookies

Trey Lance’s leadership on display as he welcomes 49ers rookies

Trey Lance requested and received the phone numbers of each of the 49ers’ nine picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Then he sent text messages welcoming each of the recruits to the team.

Incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the 49ers roster. He continues to undergo scheduled four-month physical therapy in Southern California after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder on March 8.

Lance is the 49ers’ presumptive starting quarterback for the 2022 season. Nate Sudfeld, who the 49ers signed this offseason to a fully guaranteed $2 million deal, appears to be in line to serve as a backup.

Garoppolo’s situation remains completely unstable. The 49ers insist Garoppolo could stay with the team for the final year of his contract. No one has ruled out the idea that he could be the starter.

But Lance, 22, is certainly playing the role of crew chief during the offseason program at Santa Clara.

Lance and Sudfeld met the newcomers, including seventh-round pick Brock Purdy, last week at the team’s rookie camp. Lance even stood at the training ground to watch the youngsters practice on Friday, according to reports.

“I met Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld,” said Purdy, a four-year starting quarterback at Iowa State and the final draft pick. “They’ve just welcomed me with open arms and been great guys so far, and I know that’s the kind of people and teammates they are from what I’ve heard.

“I’m excited to come into this room and learn from them and compete.”

Purdy was asked if he had any communications with Garoppolo. At that time, he hadn’t.

Garoppoo said goodbye and reflected on his 4½ seasons with the 49ers just two days after the season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. He expected him to be with another team already shortly at the start of the offseason.

But when he surprised the 49ers and opted for shoulder surgery just a week before the start of the new championship year, all business options quickly evaporated.

There is a $7.5 million injury guarantee as part of Garoppolo’s contract. The 49ers will continue efforts to trade him after he’s cleared to return to play. But there aren’t many options left.

If the 49ers can’t find a team willing to give up a draft pick and accept Garoppolo’s projected $24.2 million base salary, then what?

After the 49ers made the trade more than a year ago to move to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to select the team’s future quarterback, Garoppolo asked Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch if he would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job. . Both men assured him that he would have the opportunity to be the starter.

This year, Shanahan and Lynch might not be as willing to keep that door open for Garoppolo.

Lance will take all the training snaps with the first-team offense throughout the offseason schedule, culminating in the mandatory minicamp June 14-16.

It’s up to Lance to show this offseason that he’s capable of giving the 49ers as much or more than the organization has gotten from a healthy Garoppolo since he arrived midway through the 2017 season.

Garoppolo likely needs to be cleared for full activity at some point between the end of the offseason program and the start of training camp. At this point, the 49ers should have solidified their plan for the upcoming season.

If the 49ers don’t consider Garoppolo the starter, it seems absurd that they would keep him on their roster when they could redirect his high salary to players such as Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa.

The presence of Lance — the player the organization considers its franchise quarterback — along with his unsecured salary make Garoppolo’s situation with the 49ers fluid.

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Garoppolo would be well within his rights to seek his release as soon as possible in order to give him the best opportunity to land with a team that gives him a better chance of having a future beyond the upcoming season.

Right now, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Lance as the 49ers’ starting quarterback. He seems to be a natural for this role.

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