While the on-field sample size isn’t large with Lance – he threw just 71 passes in 178 offensive snaps as a rookie – Jones is looking toward what others in the building are saying about Lance and how that compares to what fans heard about Rodgers and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.
“I believe we are looking at a bonafide superstar like Patrick Mahomes, like Aaron Rodgers,” Jones said on NFL Total Access. “We had a small sample size of Aaron Rodgers, but all you heard out of the locker room and the people around Aaron was like, ‘Just wait,’ and ‘you wait and see.’ That’s the same thing that was around Patrick Mahomes. Small sample size, but everybody’s like, ‘Just wait. This kid’s gonna be special.’ And that’s the same thing that’s coming out of this Niners locker room with Trey Lance. Everybody you talk to in the Niners organization – and I know it’s you having your quarterback’s back – but everybody’s saying he has ‘superstar’ written all over him.
“There’s nothing he can’t do. He can make plays with his legs, really strong arm, Kyle Shanahan’s gonna put him in really good situations. I think he’s gonna be in that category. I think he’s gonna have a hell of a year. I think he’s gonna be in that category, years down the line, talking about him like we talked about Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. I think he’s that talented.”
This is what San Francisco hoped for when the team traded a trio of first-round picks to move up in the 2021 draft to pick Lance No. 3 overall. That type of investment requires a ceiling in the realm of Rodgers and Mahomes.
The most fascinating part of that comparison is Year 1. Let’s assume for a moment Jones is right and Lance is on track to be a perennial MVP candidate under center. His first year as starter could look wildly different depending on whether you compare him to Rodgers or Mahomes.
Rodgers struggled some out of the gate. He was in his fourth year in the league and took the Packers to a 6-10 record his first season as the starter. He completed 63.6 percent of his throws for 4,038 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He took off the following year, earned his first of 10 Pro Bowl nods and never looked back.
Mahomes looked a lot different his first year as the Chiefs’ starter. It was his second season and he calmly chucked 50 touchdowns en route to MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Kansas City went 12-4 and cruised to the AFC championship game where they were just edged out by the Patriots.
The 49ers would love for Lance to hit the ground running like Mahomes did, but a year like the one Rodgers had would be fine as well. Ultimately the start doesn’t matter though if he winds up being in the conversation with Rodgers, Mahomes and the other great QBs over the next four or five years.
Like this article?
Sign up for the Niners Wire email newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox every morning
An error has occured
Please re-enter your email address.
Thanks for signing up!
You'll now receive the top Niners Wire stories each day directly in your inbox.