Training Camp

Niners GM John Lynch: Trey Lance is bringing out the best in Jimmy Garoppolo

That nattering sound you hear in the background is San Francisco 49ers fans giddily geeking out over every tidbit of news on Trey Lance, pining for more info on the rookie QB, and begging for the franchise to open up a full-fledged quarterback competition.

Despite the freight train of excitement emanating from the fanbase about Lance, the Niners brass has stuck to the party line, insisting Jimmy Garoppolo is the here-and-now. Jimmy G is the starter, he's impressed all offseason, including early in camp, and we trust him to run the offense. Those are essentially the talking points handed to the entire organization. And they've stuck to the script, despite Lance surging in recent practices.

Niners GM John Lynch again reiterated on Adam Schefter's podcast that the QB competition is bringing out the best in Jimmy G.

"Jimmy's a big-time competitor, and we haven't played a game yet, but in practice in the offseason and practice in training camp thus far, he's playing his best football since he's been here, and he's played a lot of good football. Just look at his record," Lynch said. "People say, 'well, what do you do if they're both playing great?' That's another great problem to have. And we'll deal with that when it comes.

"He really is playing at a high level, and I don't want to talk about it too much -- as I'm doing so in front of millions of people -- but it's something everyone's recognizing. He's really playing at a high level, and that's the type of competitor (he is), that's what competitors do. When they're challenged, they rise to the occasion, and I think he's doing a great job of that."

Kyle Shanahan has led the way in downplaying Lance's chances at starting Week 1, keeping the rookie entrenched with backups, outside of one designed run with the starters Tuesday, and praising Garoppolo at every turn.

In quarterback competitions, words are words. They can be twisted, distorted, pulled, and even scrapped at any time. Videos -- tape as coaches would call it -- have a way of muting those words.

So when a video of Lance making a jaw-dropping, body-contorting heave on the move for a touchdown goes viral, it undermines the entire "nothing to see here" mantra Shanahan and the brass are trying to build around the rookie QB.

"He's looked tremendous," Lynch told Schefter of the rookie, via 49ers WebZone. "He really has. I think what's been most impressive about Trey, everyone wants to talk about physical traits, but the way he approaches his job, he's a pro in its truest sense.

"We've got a lot of guys who love the game and are willing to do the necessary things to prepare, and I think Trey really is an embodiment of that. And he's looking good on the field, too."

The hype train is barreling down The Bay, whether Shanahan -- a noted white-liar when it comes to his QB position -- wants to admit it or not. Perhaps Jimmy G does play his best and fends off the rookie to open the season and for a few games. But with each falter, incompletion or interception, fans will pine louder for Lance. Garoppolo needs to be perfect to keep Lance on the bench longer.

Even as Shanahan rigs the deck to keep Garoppolo as QB1 into the regular season, it's clear from everything emanating from Niners camp that Lance brings a completely different element to the offense. His mobility opens up the run and boot-action game in ways Garoppolo just can't. It's the type of offense we haven't seen from Shanahan since he unleashed Robert Griffin III on the world in 2012.

The Niners didn't mortgage their future simply to provide Jimmy G an incentive to compete and improve. They did it to take a good offense to great. Lance, they believe, can make that leap.

Whether through injury, in-season struggles or the inevitability of a highly selected rookie QB forcing his way onto the field, Garoppolo's grip on the starting gig loosens by the day, regardless of what the Niners brass insists.

The Lance Train is coming to San Francisco. It's barreling faster, picking up momentum with each practice. The only question is when the Niners will relent and schedule its arrival.

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