The Minnesota Vikings are evidently all about sportsmanship and hospitality for fellow Minnesotans, even those perceived as “the enemy.”
The Vikings and 49ers are conducting joint practices at TCO Performance Center in Eagan this week, and San Fransicso employs a Minnesota-born passer at QB1, Trey Lance. And adhering to a strict interpretation of Minnesota Nice, the Vikings provided buses from southwest Minnesota to the Twin Cities filled with players from the Marshall High School Tiger football team, where Lance attended high school.
Marshall is about 150 miles from Eagan.
So, high schoolers from Marshall will get to watch Lance as his career as a QB1 gets off the ground. San Francisco drafted Lance with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, trading away gobs of draft capital to the Miami Dolphins for the pick that landed Lance. All told, Lance was dealt to the 49ers for this draft haul:
- 2021 1st-Round pick
- 2022 1st-Round pick
- 2023 1st-Round pick
- 2022 3rd-Round pick
As a rookie, Lance appeared in six games while starting two. He accounted for 603 passing yards on 71 attempts for five touchdowns, two interceptions, 168 rushing yards, a 33.4 QBR, and a 59.9 grade from Pro Football Focus. The 49ers were 1-1 in games started by Lance.
San Francisco was steadfast about starting former QB1 Jimmy Garoppolo last year — and the plan worked, for the most part. The 49ers tunneled to the NFC Championship after upsetting the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin during the Divisional Round — an annual playoff tradition, of sorts, for the Packers — but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
But 2021 was the final Garoppolo experiment in San Francisco. With the amount of trade capital invested in Lance, he “has to” succeed for head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch’s roster planning. Garoppolo is still on the 49ers roster, but trade talks are aplenty for the soon-to-be 31-year-old. The Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Jets have all been theorized as landing spots for Garoppolo.
Moreover, Lance will receive his first stretch of consistent playing time since 2019. He didn’t play during the 2020 COVID season at North Dakota State, and last year was not a true-blue QB1 workload.
The Vikings take on the 49ers this Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium in the second preseason game of the year. Lance is not expected to play.
But at least players from his high school alma mater can monitor his growth from a front-row seat on Thursday, courtesy of the Vikings.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).