May 29, 2024
Sports columnist Dieter Kurtenbach answers your questions about Trey Lance, Steph Curry, and Kyle Harrison

It’s been a while since we’ve opened up the mailbag, but luckily it’s chock full of content this week with our big three — the Niners, Warriors, and Giants.

The big four, if you consider Trey Lance his own beat these days.

Can’t the Niners go one training camp without quarterback drama?

If you’d like to be featured in the next mailbag, reach out at [email protected]. In the meantime, let’s get to the bottom of things:

Trey Lance is now the 49ers’ third-string quarterback. What will the Niners do with him?

— Too many emailers to count

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» I don’t think they can do anything.

Surely, after Sam Darnold was reportedly named Brock Purdy’s top backup, Lance will want to leave Santa Clara. I don’t think the Niners would have a problem with that, but they can’t cut him, as they would save no money against the salary cap in the next two seasons in such a move.

So, another team will need to trade for Lance.

Who could have seen this coming?

At this point, anything that’s not a Day 3 draft pick will do. The Niners have to save some face after trading away three first-round picks for a quarterback who will have started four games for them.

But here’s the issue: Since I wrote the Niners needed to trade Lance, I’ve talked to plenty of folks around the league on the subject.

There’s no market for him.

Not right now, at least.

And there’s a real chance none develops.

Currently, no one is offering anything more than toss-away draft picks for Lance. No one is seriously engaged in a trade.

That can instantly change, but I don’t expect such a shift.

And so we wait. The Niners relegating him to the third QB spot won’t suddenly change the market — something external has to go down for Lance to become a valuable commodity in a trade. Even that might not do the job.

So I imagine Lance will start the season as the No. 3 quarterback on the team, and the Niners will do their best to get fourth-string quarterback Brandon Allen to the practice squad.

Steph Curry says he’s the greatest point guard ever. Has he ever heard of Magic Johnson?

— Dave, Milpitas

» Perhaps Curry’s claim that he is the PG G.O.A.T. was merely him looking out for talking heads everywhere.

It’s a tough moment in the content business. Are national pundits really going to talk about baseball?

Addressing the question: Curry is in no way off base in calling himself the best point guard of all time.

With apologies to Chris Paul, who never had a legitimate claim, and Jerry West, who was a shooting guard and is mislabeled on Basketball Reference, it’s a two-horse race right now.

And after Curry’s fourth title, the choice between him or Magic is nothing more than young and old people declaring their age.

Johnson’s 12-year peak — the period before his HIV diagnosis at 32 years old — began in his title-winning rookie season and resulted in five rings with averages of 19.7 points, 11.4 assists, and 7.3 rebounds over 874 regular-season games.

More importantly, Johnson’s rivalry with Larry Bird and the Celtics made the NBA a mainstream product.

That’s an indelible legacy of greatness.

But Curry — 26 points, 6-plus assists, five rebounds per game, and the league’s only unanimous MVP award — has one of those legacies, too.

Few players in any sport are individually responsible for a revolution in how the game is played. Curry is such a player, irrevocably changing basketball with his 3-point shooting. Furthermore, Curry’s greatness was achieved in a far more competitive era.

I won’t claim that Magic was playing plumbers, but Steph had more than just LeBron to worry about.

No matter where you sit now, the fact remains that Curry is still building on his legacy.

Let’s talk when Curry has 12 prime seasons (at the end of this season) or 874 prime regular-season games under his belt (theoretically, in a few seasons).

Because if he’s not the best point guard of all time now, he probably will be by the time that moment rolls around.

What did you think of Kyle Harrison’s debut?

— Michael, San Jose

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Kurtenbach: Trey Lance or Sam Darnold for 49ers backup QB? Kyle Shanahan says ‘why not both?’

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Kurtenbach: Kyle Harrison’s SF Giants call-up means the clock is ticking on Farhan Zaidi

San Francisco 49ers |


Kurtenbach: Brock Purdy picked up where he left off. That makes the 49ers the NFC’s team to beat

San Francisco 49ers |


Kurtenbach: Four things 49ers need to show me in their second preseason game

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Kurtenbach: The SF Giants’ offense has flatlined, and it has Gabe Kapler flummoxed

» It was solid, but hardly revolutionary.

The skidding Giants needed the latter.

Harrison has the stuff and the temperament to be an elite pitcher in the big leagues. The issue is that the Giants need one of those elite pitchers right now. It’s an unfair burden to put on the kid, who still has so much to figure out at this level.

The Giants’ recent skid honestly put a pall on the game. (The comical ending only added to it.)

Both the television and radio broadcasts made it seem as if Harrison was this team’s savior. It was a script that was written when the team broke camp in Scottsdale with questionable starting pitching depth beyond Alex Cobb and Logan Webb.

The Giants have put 10 rookies on the field this season while the team is in the playoff hunt.

Such little wiggle room is being provided to young players by the circumstance that I wonder if their development will be stunted.

When it comes to Harrison, that would be an absolute shame. Again, he has a chance to be special.

Strip all that context away: he provided a few minutes of fun for a team that’s been anything but fun for the last month-plus. That’s a huge win.

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