San Francisco 49ers 2022 Mock Draft: Ushering in the Trey Lance Era

Jan 3, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches game action against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan watches game action against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Trey Lance, 2021 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers 2021 NFL Draft pick Trey Lance. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Francisco 49ers faithful endured a tumultuous season and ultimately came up short in their effort for a second Super Bowl berth in three seasons. How will they rebound?

For the majority of the NFC title game, it looked as though Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers were going to clinch a berth in the Biggest Game of Them All for a second time in the Kyle Shanahan era. Coming into the game, San Fran had six straight wins against Sean McVay and the Rams, dating all the way back to 2018. It is safe to say they did not feel like the underdogs.

This carried over to Sunday, as the Niners came out of the gates swinging and entered halftime with a 10-7 advantage over their divisional rival. A Robbie Gould 38-yard field goal as time expired in the half served as the difference in the game. The 49ers added seven more points to their tally via a 16-yard connection from Garoppolo to Kittle. With 1:59 left in the penultimate quarter, they sat with a double-digit lead that followed them into the final frame.

Those points late in the third quarter proved to be the last points of the Niners’ season, as Mathew Stafford and the Rams capitalized on a number of miscues San Fran had down the stretch. In the final quarter of the season, they were outscored 13-0. Being that close to another trip to the Super Bowl and losing in that fashion must have been demoralizing for the locker room and fans alike.

The 49ers do not lack physicality when they take the field, this brand of football is especially effective in a playoff setting. However, as was painfully obvious in the fourth quarter, the 49ers severely lacks explosive athletes on the boundaries. Odell Beckham Jr. had his best game in years and you know Cooper Kupp will always get his, but it seemed particularly easy against a secondary that resembled Swiss cheese at times on Sunday.

Veteran defensive backs Jason Verrett, Josh Norman and Jaquiski Tartt are all free agents and it would behoove the team to cut ties with each of them. They were serviceable for the most part, but the Niners have a lot of young talent at the position and there will be better options out there on the market. It would be wise of them to attack the secondary positions not only in the draft but also in free agency. The problem here is that the Niners are short on picks and available cap space.

There is one way that they could add a pick while also shedding ~23 million dollars.

The elephant in the room is, and always has been, Jimmy Garoppolo. Oftentimes, Garoppolo excels in managing the game. He’s smart and knows the system like the back of his hand, but his physical limitations cannot be ignored at this point. There is a reason they mortgaged their future to go get Trey Lance.

Garoppolo has very little guaranteed in 2022, and whether it is due to a trade or being cut, you can see the writing on the wall that his time in the Bay Area is most likely over. It is easy to kick a man while he is down, so allow me to be fair and approach it with a different perspective.

Jimmy Garoppolo is very limited in what he can do on the field, this is not up for debate. However, he does possess some traits that teams could covet. He is very accurate when he’s not asked to do too much. Hovering just below the 70% completion mark in his career confirms this statement. QB wins are the most flawed stat in the sport but it is worth mentioning that Garoppolo has a 33-14 career record as a starting quarterback. Experience and the ability to mentor could be a huge selling point for a team that doesn’t land a veteran in free agency.

San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft: Trey Lance Era Begins

The San Francisco 49ers have very little cap space currently and are without a first-round pick due to the trade with Miami prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. On top of this, they have over a dozen players slated for free agency and will need to tuck some cash away for the eventual Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel mega-deals. It will be fascinating to see how they address these holes without a full catalog of resources at their disposal.

In this mock draft, I have the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on Jimmy Garappolo’s contract and using him as a bridge to whichever quarterback they select in the draft. It is crucial to state that just because a team trades for Jimmy G, it does not immediately rule out them drafting a quarterback still.

The Steelers don’t rebuild and it may be too risky to roll with a rookie out of the gate, so I have them making this move to follow the template set by Kansas City, Baltimore and San Francisco themselves. There’s nothing wrong with having options and if you can’t land Aaron Rodgers, this may be the safest move on the market.

With the added pick via trade, let’s see how the San Francisco 49ers put it to use in an effort to build around new franchise cornerstone Trey Lance.

NOTE: This mock draft was completed using the NFL Mock Draft Database simulator.