Listen, I know The Spectrum has been hitting the Trey Lance beat hard throughout the start of the school year. Can you blame us? The dude was the number three overall pick in the entire NFL draft this past spring.
It was nice to see Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers are fans of my work here at the school paper. Obviously Shanahan read my piece a couple weeks ago arguing the Niners should start Lance sooner rather than later, and that’s why the head coach gave the rookie his first career start Sunday against the undefeated Cardinals.
It’s either that or Jimmy Garoppolo’s calf injury that held him out of Sunday’s game that had something to do with it, so it’s up to you to determine the real reason why.
Lance’s first start was, as most rookie quarterback’s first starts are, a mixed bag. The former Bison completed just 15 of 29 passes, but showed the ability to extend plays with his legs and avoid too many negative plays. Lance ran the ball 16 times for 89 yards, further showing the mismatch his size, speed and athleticism creates.
It’s almost as if a performance like this could be seen coming a mile away and that they’re necessary in speeding up Lance’s development (I’m telling you guys, Shanahan read my article).
While the Niners fell to Arizona 17-10, his head coach and teammates were encouraged with what they saw from the 21 year-old on Sunday.
After the game Shanahan said, “Overall, I think we could have done a little bit better around him. I thought he did good enough to win.” Shanahan also added that while Lance wasn’t perfect, though he did some really good things.
All-pro left tackle Trent Williams echoed Shanahan’s comments saying, “He was poised. He was confident. I feel like Trey gave us a chance to win.”
Another item of note is Lance sustained a minor knee sprain during the game. Shanahan said Lance told him he couldn’t pinpoint exactly when the injury occurred, but felt some discomfort when he was going to bed. The good news is the injury appears to be minor, and Lance should be back in one to two weeks.
So, was Lance’s performance enough to win him the starting job long-term? Apparently not. Shanahan reiterated that nothing’s changed and Garoppolo will remain the starter when healthy (okay, maybe he didn’t read it after all. Your loss Kyle).
Both Garoppolo and Lance will get an extra week to rest as the Niners enter their week six bye before heading to Indianapolis on Sunday night in week seven.
The Niners and Colts matchup presents an outside chance that two former NDSU quarterbacks, Wentz and Lance, will square off against one another in prime time. Lance’s injury and Shanahan’s commitment to Garoppolo make this unlikely, but fans can dream.