NFL News: Patriots Legend Believes Trey Lance Has 'Most To Prove'

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Tristin McKinstry

The San Francisco 49ers made it clear that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't their future at the quarterback position when they traded up to select Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lance wasn't much of a factor in 2021, and according to some, the pressure is on for the North Dakota State product.

ESPN analyst and New England Patriots legend Tedy Bruschi joined NFL Live recently and said that Lance was the one with the most to prove out of all second-year quarterbacks in the NFL.

'The Redshirt Year Is Over'

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Bruschi laid it on bluntly during his ESPN appearance, stating in no uncertain terms that the 23-year-old signal-caller needs to perform this season.

"He is the one that has the most to prove because you almost have to prove your head coach and your general manager know how to evaluate quarterbacks," Bruschi said. "Redshirt year is over, bro, OK? The redshirt year is over. Now, you got to go and play.

"They've got Jimmy Garoppolo still there, who's very, very capable [and] who's taken them to the playoffs and won playoff games. So you've got to show why you gave up all that draft capital and why they feel you should be the starter because [the 49ers] are coming off a very successful season. So, definitely, Trey Lance has a lot to prove, in my opinion."

Making Jumps

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One NFL analyst believed Lance would take the biggest leap of any second-year quarterback.

"You look at the team that's built around him," Rob Ninkovich explained on NFL Live, "and what he has on the roster—the tight end position, the offensive line, Deebo [Samuel] ... the defense, the head coach, the offensive line that they have there to put him in the right position. I really think, last year, with the small sample size—I know he got banged up a little bit doing the platooning with Garoppolo—now we all know that he's going to be the guy.

"I really think he's going to take a big jump forward this year, especially with that roster. They have a playoff roster. Now he just has to go out there and perform."

Not Convinced

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Bruschi was not convinced by the idea that Lance would make the biggest leap. "We're talking about jumps, though," Bruschi said. "I don't know what Trey Lance is jumping from. He just basically did nothing last year."

Lance completed 41 passes in 71 pass attempts, 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also ran for 168 yards and one rushing touchdown in 38 carries.

Looking Ahead

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If Lance is to take a huge leap, as Ninkovich predicts, he'll need to become the starting quarterback to have the best chance. However, it's still up in the air as to whether he becomes the starter for 2022.

If the Niners trade Garoppolo, Lance is a shoo-in for the starting job. However, if they hold on to their veteran quarterback, it's not unthinkable to believe Garoppolo would be the starting quarterback and play out the last year of his deal.

Regardless of what happens in 2022, Lance has the support of his teammates and the talent to succeed in the NFL.