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NFL roundup: Should Trey Lance start?; Is Sam Darnold ready?; Are the Chargers a playoff team?

Is there a quarterback battle with the 49ers or is it an easy decision? We also preview the Panthers and Chargers and look at the playoff chances for both teams.
Credit: AP
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SAN FRANCISCO — We are officially through the first slate of preseason games and there was some impressive stuff around the league despite the exhibition, meaningless implications of the games themselves.

One of those young players we've been keeping an eye on is 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance in San Francisco, who we got to see in action for the first time against NFL players. 

On Monday's Locked On Today podcast, we take a look at the quarterback battle in San Francisco, how things are shaping up for the Carolina Panthers and whether Justin Herbert is ready to take the next step and take the Chargers to the next level.

SUBSCRIBE: The Locked On Today podcast hosted by Peter Bukowski gets you caught up each morning on the biggest stories in sports without taking up your free time. Listen here.

Is it still Jimmy G's job to lose in San Francisco?

In his preseason debut, Trey Lance went 5-for-14 with 128 passing yards and a touchdown on an 80-yard play to Trent Sherfield. 

Locked On 49ers co-host Eric Crocker joined the show to talk about the quarterback discussions in San Francisco.

"For Kyle Shanahan, you know what you're getting with Jimmy Garoppolo, for better or for worse," Crocker said on Locked On Today. "And I think right now, it's gonna take a lot for Kyle Shanahan to be able to move off of that for Trey Lance, because once you go Trey Lance, I don't know if you can go back to Jimmy Garoppolo. I think he has to be 100% sure that he's ready to stick it out for an entire season with his young guy who had limited playing time at North Dakota State played at the FCS level. hasn't played the entire year."

Crocker and Bukowski talk more about the Niners and where they stand as a team heading into the season, and their chances at getting back to the Super Bowl.

Sam Darnold, Panthers offense ready?

The Panthers made a high upside move this offseason when they traded for 2018 third overall pick Sam Darnold to lead their offense as the Jets were moving on to Zach Wilson.

What is it going to take for the Panthers to find success offensively? Julian Council joined Locked On Today.

"Quite simply, at least for Sam Donald's sake, he has to take care of the football right? 39 interceptions in 30 career games. He has 20 fumbles, that's just not going to get it done," Council said. "Yes, there's plenty of reasons why he didn't have success in New York because of the lack of talent around him in terms of the skill positions and on the offensive line. But here in Carolina, he has everything around him that should lead to success."

That includes the most dangerous running back/receiver combo in the league in Christian McCaffrey, strong wideouts in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson plus tight end Dan Arnold who has reportedly looked great in camp.

Are the Panthers are playoff team?

"I don't think they're gonna be a playoff team. They're the youngest team in the NFL. So conventional wisdom tells you that maybe give it a little bit more time, second year head coach," Council said. "I'm looking towards 2022 as the season for this team to maybe to contend for the division depending on of course what goes on in New Orleans and Tampa Bay."

Justin Herbert ready to take Chargers to next level?

Justin Herbert was more than impressive last season in his rookie year. He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, passing for over 4,300 yards and 31 touchdowns. 

The Chargers weren't great last season, finishing 6-9, but with some key defensive players returning from injury and a new coaching staff, are they ready for the next step?

Dave Droegemeier of Locked On Chargers joined the show to talk about some things that need to happen for the Chargers to make the playoffs and he started with coaching.

"It's going to take better quality coaching and I think the Chargers finally found that," Droegemeier said. "I think it's going to take better in game decisions. It's going to take adjustments from quarter to quarter, from game to game. And the Chargers just simply have not done that with the previous regimes they don't adjust and that's what they lose a lot of one score games."

Droegemeier said he has a lot of confidence that the Chargers, if they can stay healthy, will be a playoff team this season.

"I think this chargers team has a very high ceiling. I mean, a lot of things have to go right. But I'm gonna go somewhat conservative, and I'm going to go 11-6, I think this team can win 12 plus games," he said. "I know that might sound optimistic, but I think that with this coaching staff, and the changes they made on defense, and the offensive line improvements are all reasons why the Chargers can and should win a lot of football games this season and you should be excited."

Also on today's Locked On Today

  • The Grizzlies and the Clippers made a surprising trade on Sunday.
  • Roger Federer is going to miss the US Open and be sidelined for what he said will be "many months" because he needs a third operation on his right knee, a procedure he said will leave him with "a glimmer of hope'' that he can return to competition.
  • The Packers planned for a lot of Jordan Love this preseason. But that plan may have changed after an apparent shoulder injury.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. wasted no time making an impact for the San Diego Padres in his return from the injured list Sunday.