Betting Odds For San Francisco 49ers’ Week 1 Starting Quarterback

Posted on July 12, 2021
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No team had a more scrutinized first pick in the NFL draft than the San Francisco 49ers. Everyone knew that Trevor Lawrence would go first to the Jacksonville Jaguars and that Zach Wilson would go second to the New York Jets.

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The third pick – which the 49ers traded up to get from the Miami Dolphins – was the pick that had everyone wondering. Would head coach Kyle Shanahan take Justin Fields of Ohio State? Would he take Mac Jones of Alabama? Would he take Trey Lance of North Dakota State?

The whispers and backroom chatter had, for several weeks leading up to late April’s first round, speculated that Shanahan and the 49ers were leaning toward Mac Jones. Teams fall in love with certain players, and for a good portion of the process leading up to draft night, the word on the street was that Shanahan loved Jones.

However, draft decisions aren’t always unilaterally made. Sometimes the coach gets what he wants, or the general manager allows the coach to pick his particular player. Other times, the front office gets more involved in a process and the scouting department offers a firm recommendation which creates a team decision on a top-five draft pick. This appears to have been a situation in which the 49ers’ team of scouts and executives consulted with Shanahan to steer the pick from Jones to Lance.

Analysts outside the 49er camp felt that drafting Mac Jones would have been a huge mistake. The decision to pick Lance is viewed as a much better choice, but the real question is if that was a better move than drafting Justin Fields, who wasn’t picked until the Chicago Bears traded up and grabbed him at No. 11. We will simply have to wait and see if the 49ers got this one right.

49ers Quarterback Odds – Who Will Be The Week 1 Starter?

We might find out sooner rather than later, or it might require a few years to get a real sense of how this question might be resolved. Who will be the Week 1 starter for this team? That question will begin to enable the 49ers to litigate whether Trey Lance was in fact the quarterback they needed to take.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Odds At FanDuel Sportsbook: -320

The 49ers would not likely draft a rookie QB such as Trey Lance and immediately throw him into the fire when they have a veteran signal-caller who led them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Jimmy Garoppolo was injured for much of last season. The idea that he would lose his job to a rookie is hard to view as a likelihood.

It might exist on the outer fringes of what is possible, but it isn’t the probable outcome. It is logical to think that Garoppolo, at least at the beginning of the 2021 season, will get his chance to re-prove himself now that he is healthy again. Yes, it is very realistic that Lance could come in midway through the season and relieve Garoppolo, but remember that this discussion is about Week 1, not the middle of the season or the playoffs. Can Lance really unseat Jimmy G in time for the regular season? It is hard to imagine that at this point.

Garoppolo, when healthy, has shown how good he can be. He was a very good NFL quarterback in the 2019 NFL season, in which the 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers have every reason to give this 2021 season to Jimmy G. If it doesn’t work out, they have Lance waiting in the wings for 2022.

Much as the Kansas City Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes, they let the older veteran play one year while the rookie sits on the sidelines and observes the NFL game up close while studying the offensive playbook. Then, the next year, the rookie-turned-second-year player can start on opening day and take ownership of the team. One can easily see the 49ers doing that with Jimmy G and Lance.

Here is the concern about Jimmy G: He could fail to respond to a Super Bowl loss. This is what has happened to Jared Goff since his Super Bowl loss a few years ago with the Los Angeles Rams. He never got over that loss, and his level of play declined. He is now in Detroit with the Lions. Maybe Jimmy G is in a dark place and won’t recover, but the Niners have to give him a chance before they have a fuller idea of what they are working with.

Best-case scenario: Garoppolo takes full command of the job and leads the 49ers back to the Super Bowl.

Worst-case scenario: Jimmy G falters out of the gate, forcing Lance to become the starter in Week 6 with the 49ers swimming uphill throughout the season in the rugged NFC West.

Trey Lance

Odds At FanDuel Sportsbook: +240

The dual-threat skills of Trey Lance are intriguing. Garoppolo is a traditional dropback passer, but Lance can make plays outside the pocket and give the 49ers another dimension. There is no question that Lance is the quarterback of the future in San Francisco, but is he the quarterback of the present moment, enough to get the Week 1 job?

It isn’t likely that Lance is going to swipe this job from Jimmy G in time for Week 1, but it is not out of the question. If Lance dazzles in the preseason while Garoppolo labors along and doesn’t seem anywhere close to being a sharp signal-caller, Lance could still get the nod on Opening Day. Shanahan would need to be convinced, however, that the 49ers can win big with Lance in Year 1. Lance would have to meet that standard.

Best-case scenario: Lance performs at an elite, rookie-of-the-year level – if he is going to start in Week 1, the best-case scenario involves a great season, not merely a good one. The 49ers have Super Bowl talent on most of their roster. They need Lance to be great if they are going to choose him as their season-long starter.

Worst-case scenario: Lance is thrown into the fire midway through the year, and he has a tough time adjusting to the NFL game. He doesn’t play a full season, but he also doesn’t gain much confidence for the road ahead.

Nick Mullens

Odds At FanDuel Sportsbook: +1600

If you saw the 49ers play last season with Mullens – and without Garoppolo – you know that Mullens is nothing more than a mediocre caretaker quarterback. He can win an occasional game, but he can’t start a full season and lead a team to a winning record. He isn’t that good.

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