San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to the local media Monday and revealed Trey Lance had a left knee sprain. Shanahan also gave his thoughts on how Lance performed during his first start as a rookie:
“I was proud of him. I thought he went into a tough environment versus a real good team. I thought he did a lot of real good things. Threw a bad pick on that first drive, but I thought he bounced back well. I thought he was aggressive on what he saw. When he saw it right, he let it rip. When he didn’t think something was there, he ran aggressively. I thought he did a real good job through it all and handled the noise pretty well. And I thought it was a good first experience for him.”
That’s a great coaching move by Shanahan to praise Lance publicly. Shanahan said he was “totally good with it” when asked if he was OK with Lance’s off-schedule running plays.
There’s been a lot of backlash towards Shanahan saying it’s his fault for using Lance as a designed runner, and that’s the reason the rookie is hurt. I’m not buying it. Lance is 225 pounds and runs a 4.51 40. He was always going to run the ball a ton — especially early on while he learns the offense.
Shanahan was asked what some things he’s been encouraged by are and conversely what could be concerning moving forward:
“When you lose three games in a row, you’re always down. It’s a tough thing, especially in this league. But I’ve been on teams where I’ve lost three in a row and you aren’t that encouraged because you can’t see how you could have won those games. And all three of these games, for different reasons, I feel very strongly that we could have won these three, especially this last one.
And when you look at that and you can show the tape and show it to guys, you don’t have to make stuff up. You’ve just got to show the clips. And we had every chance possible to win that game yesterday from the beginning of the game all the way to the end of the game. And I felt the same versus Seattle. And I felt the same versus Green Bay.
And those are the things to be positive about and the fact that most of this league, except for one or two teams, there’s usually about one or two teams that are on top and got a little bit easier just with the talent level, but then there’s usually one or two teams at the bottom, and I put everyone else pretty much in the middle and it’s who wins more of those close games and we’ve been in five of them and those easily could have gone differently.
And that makes you a 5-0 team. And I’m not trying to sit here and act like we are. There’s a big difference between our record and the Cardinals. But the Cardinals have also won three really tight games. Beating Minnesota, when Minnesota missed a field goal at the last second. Coming back versus Jacksonville when they’re down 19-10 at the end of the third and then yesterday.
So that’s the main thing I try to stress to our team, that it’s always going to be hard when you lose games in this league. But you can’t let a narrative become your reality. You’ve got to watch the tape, you’ve got to work harder, you’ve got to get better at all these little details that come down to winning and losing in crucial moments.”
That’s about as level-headed of an answer as it gets. You could sense Shanahan’s frustration, and how could you not be after the way the past three games have gone. Heading into the season, many of us predicted the 49ers to go 4-1 or 3-2 at the very worst through five games. Instead, injuries, lack of execution, and complementary football have done the 49ers in to start the season.
Pretending as though the Niners issues magically showed up in Week 3 is naive. We all remember how the fourth quarter went in Detroit during Week 1, and the struggles were apparent on offense in Week 2. San Francisco couldn’t get away with sloppy play against better competition.
“You can’t let a narrative become your reality” is a message this team needs to hear. The bye week comes at a perfect time so this team can re-group and stop the bleeding. The 49ers are 2-3 but have the Colts and a rookie QB as its next two games. They can easily be 4-3 heading into a two-game divisional stretch against the Cardinals and Rams. If there are still NFC West dreams, San Francisco will have to win both games.
One game at a time, and it starts with Indianapolis. You’d think the 49ers were 2-9 the way people talk about them. But, we’ll find out a lot about this team in two Sundays with how they answer against the Colts.