49ers open to trading Trey Lance: John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan address QB's murky future in San Francisco

Less than one year after being given the starting quarterback job in San Francisco, Trey Lance is likely on his way out. After losing a training camp battle to Sam Darnold for the No. 2 QB job, Lance’s future with the 49ers is now as murky as ever. 

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft might end up spending another season with the 49ers, but there’s also a chance that he could be traded before the season starts. John Lynch was asked about Lance’s future during an interview with KNBR on Thursday, and although you can’t always trust what a GM says, Lynch appeared to offer an honest take about what’s going to happen with Lance. 

For one, he said that there’s definitely a good chance that Lance will start the season in San Francisco. 

“That’s the most likely option,” Lynch said, via ESPN. “We’re very happy with Trey. The most likely option is that he’s here.”

On the other hand, Lynch made it clear he would be more than open to trading away the 23-year-old if it’s a move that works for everyone involved. 

“If we can find a landing spot for Trey that is a really good one for him and works for our organization, that’s not something that we’d turn a blind eye to,” Lynch said. “But that’s not where our focus is right now. Our focus is on Trey getting back here and us being the best football team.”

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Kyle Shanahan made a similar comment Wednesday when asked if Lance might end up getting traded, “We’ll always try to do right for Trey,” Shanahan said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “If there’s a better situation that his heart’s in and something like that, we’re going to make sure not to do something that hurts him in that way.”

The 49ers sound very open to trading Lance, and one reason for that could be because the QB requested to be dealt. Lynch was actually asked if Lance made a trade request following the QB’s demotion on Wednesday, and the 49ers GM ducked the question by changing the subject. 

“Like I said, Trey’s back in the building,” Lynch said, via the Chronicle. “And we’re going to work. We’re still finishing training camp up. Trey understands that. We understand that.”

If Lance didn’t request a trade, Lynch simply could have said that, but instead, he gave a vague answer. That’s notable, because at one point in the interview, he was asked about the rumor that the 49ers had spent most of the offseason trying to trade Lance, and he was more than happy to shoot down that report. 

“That’s not accurate,” Lynch said of the report from The Athletic. “If I responded to every report, I’d have no time in my day, but that is not accurate.”

Although we don’t know if Lance has officially requested a trade, we do know the 49ers let him skip practice Wednesday so that he could digest the news of his demotion. 

“Trey handled it incredibly well, with class,” Lynch said of how Lance reacted to losing the battle for the No. 2 QB job. “He was devastated, and rightly so. When you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t come to fruition, you’re going to be devastated. That’s the type of competitor he is. But we’re in a good place, he’ll be back in the building today and we’re moving forward.”

The 49ers gave up a lot to draft Lance in 2021, and although things didn’t work out, Lynch wasn’t willing to put any blame on his young QB. Instead, he appeared to blame the team’s coaching staff for not creating an offense that took advantage of Lance’s skillset. 

“I really give him a lot of credit because we didn’t, like, tailor an offense that highlights what Trey is able to do, but I think he grew from that,” Lynch said. “He just played within our offense and still showed some of his ability to move around, made a lot of plays.”

Whatever ends up happening with Lance, there’s a good chance we won’t have to wait long to find out. The 49ers have to have their roster down to 53 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. The team currently has four quarterbacks — Lance, Darnold, Brock Purdy and Brandon Allen — and one of those guys will almost certainly be gone by that Tuesday deadline since the 49ers won’t be carrying four quarterbacks on the roster. 

As Lynch said, if the 49ers get a reasonable offer for Lance, they’ll be open to trading him, so that will be something to watch for over the next few days. On the other hand, if the 49ers can’t find a trade partner, then Lance will likely stick around for at least one more season. The reason for that is because the team would take on $14.6 million in dead money if they were to release him, and that’s not a number the 49ers can really afford to deal with right now. 

Of course, even if Lance starts the season on the 49ers roster, that doesn’t mean he’ll end the season in San Francisco. The 49ers could keep him for the start of the regular season and then look to deal him away before the Oct. 31 trade deadline, a move that would be made much easier if another team were to get hit with an unexpected QB injury between now and then. 

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