Jerry Rice: Lance is 'before his time,' ready to be 49ers' starter
"I think he's ready to go," Rice told KSBW. "I think he's incredible because he has that one aspect that Jimmy (Garoppolo) doesn't have, and that's the threat of running with the ball and stuff like that. His mobility. His strong arm. This guy is before his time. He's a young kid, but he's very experienced, and I think he's ready to go."
Garoppolo has been the 49ers' main passer over the last four seasons, but San Francisco's expected to move on from him this year and give the starting role to Lance, who it drafted third overall in 2021.
The 49ers' quarterback situation has been a topic of debate. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said in February he doesn't think Lance's ready yet, adding his former team should keep Garoppolo.
Lance had limited playing time as a rookie, mostly enjoying situational in-game appearances in the first month of the season. The 22-year-old started two games in place of an injured Garoppolo throughout the campaign, passing for two touchdowns to two interceptions in those starts. Lance finished 2021 with 168 yards and one score on 38 carries.
The North Dakota State product started only one full season in college, throwing for 28 touchdowns with no interceptions to go along with 1,100 yards and 14 scores on the ground.
The 49ers were 9-6 with Garoppolo at quarterback in 2021. The 30-year-old, who tossed 20 touchdowns against 12 picks in the regular season, guided San Francisco to the NFC title game, though he was limited to only two touchdown passes and three interceptions in the playoffs.
Garoppolo owns a 31-14 regular-season record in San Francisco since being traded from the New England Patriots. Injuries have forced him to miss 25 games since 2018.
He was expected to be moved earlier this offseason, but his trade value took a hit after he underwent shoulder surgery. Garoppolo's recovery is on schedule, and he's expected to resume throwing in July, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.