Trey Lance’s broken ankle leaves the Niners in no-man’s land

SANTA CLARA — Thank goodness no other team in the NFL wanted Jimmy Garoppolo.

The 49ers needed him Sunday. They’ll need him for the next 15 games, too.

They might need him for another few seasons beyond that.

Trey Lance’s first season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback is over after five quarters, as he broke his right ankle on a first-quarter running play during a 27-7 win over the Seahawks Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

The Niners’ playoff hopes didn’t evaporate on Sunday, as they did in September 2018 when Garoppolo tore his ACL at the end of a Week 3 game against the Chiefs. No, because Garoppolo is still, improbably, on the team, the Niners have a chance to play deep into January.

But while the Lance injury might not hurt the team dramatically now, it puts all of the 49ers’ long-term plans into a blender.

This season was all about Lance. That’s still true even though he won’t play again in 2022.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Lance is the future of the Niners’ franchise. At least he should be, as he was the No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and the Niners traded away three first-round picks for the right to select him.

He was the present of the franchise, too. Until Sunday, at least.

The Niners went all-in on Lance when they picked him.

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