We love a good barroom sports argument here at the Jock Blog, and nothing stirs our loins more than the Greatest QB of All Time topic.
You say Tom Brady.
I say Joe Montana.
And now, I guess we have to acknowledge the third horse in the race:
Is Trey Lance the Greatest QB of All Time?
Right? Right? Hey, are you still with me?
That’s where we’re at in the first week of August, as the 21-year-old kid from North Dakota State has spent the past few days in Santa Clara dazzling, astounding, thrilling and titillating onlookers. Including his own teammates.
“Best arm I’ve ever seen, hands down” — Dre Greenlaw, 49ers linebacker.
“A freak athlete … all the attributes to be a very special QB” — George Kittle, 49ers tight end.
“Generational talent” — Trent Williams, 49ers offensive tackle.
We could go on and on with the praise. Or the fact that 49ers social media is highlighting his throws, set to thunderous hip hop beats.
Let’s take a breath here and rejigger the terms of the question. If it’s too early to call Trey Lance the GOAT, can we at least ask this: Is the WOS?
That’s Week One Starter, sports fans.
Should the explosive arrival of Lance on the training camp practice field hasten his ascension to QB1 of the 49ers, as early as Sept. 12 vs the Lions in Detroit? This is a legitimate question, and one I am officially open to.
Despite Paulie Mac’s protestations, I do like Jimmy Garoppolo. Paulie doesn’t believe me when I say that, but I do. Ever since he drifted to his left and found Louis Murphy in the 2018 Santa Clara drizzle to close out a loss to the Seahawks, he revitalized the franchise. It felt great, baby.
But Super Bowl losses are like pandemics. They don’t go away easily. Throw in Jimmy G’s history of injuries, and the 49ers told you what they think about Garoppolo’s future by trading away their 2022 and 2023 first round draft picks to take a kid who played one college football game since 2019.
And by all accounts, they nailed the pick.
So it’s a fait accompli that Trey Lance will be the 49ers starting quarterback for the next — oh, 15 years or so. Why not start that clock as soon as possible? As Billy Crystal’s Harry said to Meg Ryan’s Sally: “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Williams came on our show this morning and chased his “generational talent” comment by saying that, at age 21, Lance has time to develop and there is no need to rush him. That’s fair. And I wouldn’t lose my mind if Jimmy G started Week 1. It would be the prudent and safe thing to do. Let a motivated and veteran Garoppolo face live road bullets. Let Lance see the speed of the game from the sidelines. Let him dissect NFL game film for a few weeks. I get it. I have no serious problem with that.
I’d also note that we are more than five weeks away from that game in Detroit. Lance could continue his exponential acceleration. He could continue to play at such a level, it becomes obvious he gives the 49ers a better chance to win — which is Kyle Shanahan’s stated metric for when a change is made at QB.
I’m not saying Trey Lance has Tom Brady looking over his shoulder, or has Patrick Mahomes plummeting down fantasy draft boards.
All I’m saying is, I’m open to the idea of him starting Week 1. An open mind is a beautiful thing.