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Why Minnesota Vikings shouldn’t hesitate to take a chance on Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers announced Sam Darnold as Brock Purdy’s backup QB this season, which leaves Trey Lance as the odd man out on gameday. Lance wasn’t on the practice field on Wednesday, which suggests the 49ers could be weighing their options regarding the former No. 3 overall pick’s future with the organization.

If so, several teams are expected to inquire about a trade for the 23-year-old former first-round pick out of North Dakota State. That could even include the Minnesota Vikings, who reportedly looked into acquiring the Marshall, MN native before the 2023 NFL Draft.

Trey Lance’s limited experience leaves room for growth

Just two years ago, the 49ers traded the 12th pick, first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, plus an additional third-round pick to trade up to select Lance third overall. Even though he was expected to begin his career as a backup, Lance made two starts as a rookie, filling in for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021.

Lance was named the 49ers’ starting QB to begin the 2022 season, but a fractured ankle would end his season after just two starts. To this point, he’s made just four starts in two seasons for the 49ers. Garoppolo has moved on via free agency to the Las Vegas Raiders. Meanwhile, Purdy has a firm grasp on the starting role in San Francisco, and Wednesday’s depth chart announcement indicates Darnold has already passed Lance on the QB hierarchy, too.

As Ian Rapoport indicated, the 49ers may be open to trading Lance, and the Vikings expressed interest in the spring, but that was before adding Jaren Hall in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. However, late-round picks are always a shot in the dark, meaning Hall isn’t exactly penciled in as a future starter. The same goes for Nick Mullens, who is a capable backup, but there’s no more room for growth for the 28-year-old.

Potential reward greatly outweighs risk with Lance

The Vikings may have capable backups, but they don’t know if they have a QB who can put the team on his back for a few games or even for an entire season in future years. That’s why looking into the trade cost for Lance, who, as mentioned, is still just 23, compared to Hall being 25, may not be a bad approach.

Chances are the 49ers aren’t going to get an offer that includes anything better than a Day 2 pick. Thus, if there’s a chance to add a potential QB of the future for a combination of picks no earlier than the fourth round, how much do the Vikings have to lose? Weighing the risk/reward factor, knowing the opportunity to land a starter drastically outweighs the cost, how can you not consider the idea?

Making matters even more interesting is the fact that Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was a part of the 49ers’ front office when the franchise traded up to select Lance in 2021. We don’t know if that means he was pounding the table, advocating for the raw QB’s selection, but he certainly has a strong background on Lance.

There’s a reason the 49ers went for a Hail Mary by trading up for Lance two years ago. He’s a dual-threat QB with a cannon for an arm. If coached properly, these traits are what scouts drool over. Lance always needed repetitions and time to develop. In San Francisco, he didn’t get much of either due to injuries and the unexpected development of Purdy. But that doesn’t mean Lance doesn’t still have plenty of potential.

For the 49ers, they believe they’ve since found their new QB of the future with Purdy, so it makes sense to see if there’s a chance to regain any value from Lance while allowing him to play elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Vikings could fall backward into finding a potential solution for their QB of the future, with 35-year-old Kirk Cousins headed into a contract year. I think the Vikings don’t have much to lose, but the potential gains by trading for Lance could be significant.

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