Here We Go Again with the Trey Lance Theories

Aug 19, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) signals during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

A common theme in Minnesota has been the idea to trade for Trey Lance, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Those speculations had different levels throughout the last seven months and started with the concept of trading QB1 Kirk Cousins to California and getting Lance in return as a younger and cheaper starter.

Here We Go Again with the Trey Lance Theories

here we go
Jul 27, 2023; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) looks before throwing a pass during training camp at the SAP Performance Facility. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports.

That, of course, disappeared months ago and turned into the vision of acquiring Lance as the backup quarterback to develop behind Cousins for a season to then take over for him in 2024. What changed was the fact that suddenly Lance isn’t as highly regarded as he used to be.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers head coach, named Brock Purdy the team’s starter weeks ago, although his recovery timeline wasn’t perfectly clear. Still, it is the Purdy Show who has been great in his debut season, in general, and as a seventh-round pick.

The next chapter in the story takes place on Wednesday when the 49ers named Sam Darnold Purdy’s backup. Lance is the odd man out. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted: “The 49ers are naming Sam Darnold their No. 2 quarterback and the team is exploring options with Trey Lance, sources tell me and
@RapSheet. Darnold will back up Brock Purdy, while the future of Lance — the No. 3 overall pick in 2021 — is unclear.”

Sep 11, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

An unclear future means they have no idea how this situation will unfold, but one thing is clear — Lance’s time in San Francisco is over. The 49ers will likely hesitate to release a former third-overall pick, so a trade is the logical solution. Lance needs a fresh start somewhere else. And, you’ve guessed right, it took only a few minutes for the Vikings to land in the speculation circle for Lance.

Fox Sport’s Colin Cowherd spoke about the situation on his show The Herd: “This is what we said. Watch the games. Purdy is the most accurate, Darnold has had the best camp. Trey is a good kid. I would roll the dice if I was Minnesota behind Kirk Cousins. I would do it, I like him. Big, coachable, smart kid. He just needs to play. That kid needs to play.”

Cowherd contradicted himself, saying Lance needs to play, which he undoubtedly wouldn’t in Minnesota. Regardless, Lance is an interesting player for the Vikings because Cousins is in the final year of his contract, and, while it is early, Jaren Hall doesn’t appear to be the long-term answer as fifth-rounders rarely are, and Nick Mullens is a backup.

Lance has some exciting tools. He is one of the most athletic players at the QB position, has a strong arm, and played extremely clean football at North Dakota State. Kevin O’Connell, a former NFL quarterback, would be his mentor and try to teach him how to turn into a starting QB in the league.

Minnesota Fans Are
Jan 2, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

However, Lance has shown absolutely nothing in two full seasons and the 2023 preseason that looked like he could be a starter in the NFL besides raising injury questions. The only thing that indicates starting potential is the price tag of the third overall pick.

He threw for 797 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in his limited snaps in the two years with the 49ers and rushed for 235 yards and another score, showcasing poor mechanics and questionable decision-making. Just a couple of weeks ago, he threw the ball right into the hands of ex-Vikings Duke Shelley in the endzone, who deflected the pass to a 49ers receiver.

The argument isn’t black or white at this point. In exchange for a late-round selection, he could be a nice flier to see if his issues are fixable, and that is a project that would fit Minnesota’s timeline to find a successor for Cousins if the team could indeed fix him.

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

It would be a hail mary, the acquisition of a reclamation project more than that of a future superstar, but for a low-risk late-round pick, it might be worth a shot, especially if O’Connell watches the preseason tape and thinks he can work with him, although there might be a better use for those picks to fix a hole on the roster as the front office has talked a lot about ‘championship standard’ and a couple positions don’t reflect that. If the 49ers have higher demands than a day 3 pick, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah should end negotiation talks quickly.

The QB has thrown for 285 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in the two preseason games, although the TD and INT numbers would have been flipped if not for Shelley’s best Troy Williamson impression.

Lance is 23 years old.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt