Who knows if Jimmy Garoppolo will start for the 49ers against the Texans on Sunday. Jimmy attempted to practice on Wednesday but was seen leaving the pitch before the media could get an eye on Garoppolo.
Kyle Shanahan insisted that a player must train to play the following Sunday. Trey Lance therefore took all the representatives of the first team on Wednesday. We’ll be keeping an eye on whether or not Jimmy is training as the week goes on.
If Lance makes his second start, let’s set realistic expectations. Here’s what a few of our staff have come to expect from Lance against the Texans.
Since Lance’s first departure, a few things have changed. Deebo has become a running back, Brandon Aiyuk has left the doghouse, and Shanahan has realized how sticking to gameplay helps him react to defensive adjustments helps him. Large doses of Deebo out of the backfield will make Lance’s life easier. I think Aiyuk running harder and more freely than before could lead to QB-WR fireworks, and I think Kyle will plan the game more effectively with that forced clarity.
In terms of Lance’s QB play, I would expect more of the same: an inconsistency with Elite Flashes. He’ll sail a few gimmes, hit Charlie Woerner on the fingers with an unnecessarily hard ball, and he’ll have some nice races here and there. I’m sure he’ll have “wow” moments and games, but my open question all week is “how many and when?” “. As a 49er fan, the hope is that his last 12 weeks of training will reduce the error rate and increase the flash rate. After a whole semester of QB 10, is he ready for his first real midterm?
We’ve seen six quarterbacks and a handful of shots from professional quarterback Trey Lance. Based on this small sample size, we can pretty much guess what will happen this Sunday. Shanahan has deployed her handpicked protege in a way that accentuates her athleticism in the running game, and will obviously continue to move forward. Especially considering that the key to this showdown will be the Houston Texans’ terrible run defense and how best to exploit it.
Currently, they allow 4.7 yards per carry and 141.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks them 30th. With Elijah Mitchell’s expected return and Deebo Samuel’s backfield dominance, it could quickly become a contest in which the Niners plan to kick the air out of the ball. It’s a game plan that best plays on their strength, maintains control of the clock / pace, and protects the rookie from too much air risk.
Could we see more passes on the pitch and off the numbers? Absolutely, it would be hard to have less compared to Garoppolo, and that’s the advantage of Trey Lance’s training, but I still wouldn’t expect fireworks from the youngster.
Is it possible for 49ers fans to objectively set a benchmark for the individual productivity of a 21-year-old rookie starting his second NFL career? (HA, gotcha, of course not) Unfortunately not, as subjectivity on these matters will always reign supreme. One thing almost anyone can agree on, however, is that the ultimate goal this week is to beat the Houston Texans. (Duh, Jordan, the goal every week is to beat your opponent).
I mention this because Trey Lance is more than capable of piloting an attack that can do enough to beat a Texan team that has been surprisingly hot lately. I thought Lance did well on his first start in Arizona, except for a few minor mistakes. I would say it’s the lack of chemistry / first-team reps. Nonetheless, I thought Lance played well enough to give the 49ers a chance to win this game.
They regularly moved the ball through Cardinals territory; there were just clearly some problems with the finishing of the records. So if Lance and his dynamic ability can replicate a similar level of productivity between the 20s in this game, I think that means the 49ers should run the business and potentially land a playoff birth. Expect a fair amount of bootlegs to put the defense into conflict, and I’d bet we’ll see some really innovative stuff with Lance near the goal line as a runner.
My expectations for a 21-year-old entering his second career game are pretty straightforward: to execute the practice wheel attack better than Jimmy Garoppolo. A perfect example where Jimmy Garoppolo does this:
Trey Lance has to do this:
Lance’s pass to Deebo wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was good enough to be caught and attempt a touchdown. Jimmy’s pass to Juszczyk was not. It is that simple.
If Kyle Shanahan wants to do a little more to use Lance’s athleticism, that’s fine, but all Trey really needs to do is make the easy plays Kyle has prepared for Garoppolo without giving the ball to the other team. Everything else is the icing on the cake.
This is the moment we have all been waiting for. Finally, the third overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft should make its second career start against a rather poor defense from the Houston Texans. With several months of NFL experience under his belt, I would expect Lance to attack the defense with his arm more than some think. In Lace’s six quarterbacks, we saw offensive player Kyle Shanahan have a different script than he would have with Jimmy Garoppolo. This includes the fact that he is more aggressive going into the fourth downs.
My main thought when it comes to planning the game is that Shanahan won’t be calling a lot of runs designed for the quarterback. Which means Lance will have many attempted passes, and I think he will clear 30 (attempts). I know that sounds like a lot, but San Francisco’s rushed attack wasn’t dynamic and Lance has the opportunity to win the game with his arm. That being said, I expect Lance to extend the game with his legs and rush for a few first downs.
At the end of the day, I think Lance has the opportunity to have a heroic performance. I’m predicting two Lance passing touchdowns and at least 275 all-purpose yards in a win to bolster the 49ers’ playoff prospects.
Lance couldn’t find a better situation. The 49ers’ offensive line has exceeded expectations and has functioned as a top 10 unit. If Elijah Mitchell plays, he will come with fresh legs. Lance will have the trio of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to lean on while having Kyle Shanahan calling games against a 63-year-old defensive coordinator who manages base covers without elite players.
The stage is set for Lance to perform well. However, that does not mean that he will play football without errors. He had a sailing pass on the first leg that led to an interception the last time we saw Lance. Recruits tend to be overzealous or trust what they could do in college.
The hope is that Lance throws and runs for multiple touchdowns while looking like the third overall pick. Even though Lance’s coaches and teammates praise him, he has had 48 attempts this season. There will inevitably be growing pains Sunday, the following Sunday and next year.
Football is a game of confrontation, and there is nothing the Texans do that would indicate they are slowing down the 49ers. This remains true no matter who is under the center. Lance’s athleticism will help exhibit a run defense from the Texans that allowed for the most explosive fourth assists since Week 9.
Successful running play will lead to big plays via play action or the Niners using some variation of running action to control Houston linebackers. My guess for Lance’s stat line? About 230 passing yards, with 50 rushing yards and three combined touchdowns.