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Shanahan: Trey’s a good football player. Trey is here for a reason

The 49ers HC spoke about what he saw from his third overall selection

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked how much of his offense he could use once Trey Lance entered the game. His answer provides all of the context needed as to why the offense took a while to get going under Lance:

“We have packages in for him, but the gameplan wasn’t built for him. And you do the openers and all the second-half adjustments, but we didn’t really realize that Jimmy wasn’t going to come out until like the last minute. So, we had to kind of make some moves on the fly and do some stuff that he was comfortable with, and I thought we got better as we went.”

The offense averaged 6.5 yards per play in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty, which is to be expected. Third downs were a struggle. As a team, San Francisco was 2-of-14 for the game. Both quarterbacks only converted only one third down.

Pressure numbers for the quarterbacks

PFF credited Lance for one turnover-worthy play compared to Garoppolo’s two. The pressure numbers were worse than I previously thought, as Garoppolo was pressured five times and sacked once with an average of 2.58 seconds to throw. Lance was pressured a whopping ten times and sacked once, with an average time to throw of 3.57 seconds.

Both quarterbacks dropped back to pass 24 times. You could watch two dropbacks and understand why one quarterback has longer to throw compared to the others. Lance holds the ball, for better and for worse. Garoppolo does a great job of getting rid of the ball and going to the correct spots.

It’s important to point out that it felt like there were times when Lance’s depth of his dropback was too deep, which could make life easier for edge rushers to get to the quarterback.

Here’s how Shanahan assessed Lance’s performance:

“Some good, some bad. He got thrown in not expecting to get in and I thought he ran the ball well, he hit some passes, obviously missed some passes. Was in a tough situation there when we were down two scores. Did a good job moving the chains a couple of times with his legs, but it looked like a typical first game.”

What’s next for Lance?

Shanahan said he’ll study Arizona and put the best game plan together for Lance. Here’s how Shanahan felt Lance handled playing in a situation where he was unprepared:

“He went in there unexpected and he competed. Trey’s a football player. You guys can see that at times throughout that game. Regardless of what’s happening, he’s always got a chance to make a play and that’s why I think he did. It was good for him to take us down on that scoring drive there at the end. But it takes some time to play in this league as you guys have seen throughout. It’s about knowing where to get rid of the ball, when to try to make those plays, when to check it down, have other guys do it for you, when to hang in the pocket, when to escape the pocket, and he got a lot of real NFL game experience with that today. Hopefully he’ll get better from it.”

Shanahan added: “Trey is here for a reason. You want to give him the time. You want him to be fully ready, but you don’t always have that luxury. That’s what we’ll find out in the next couple of days.”

As Shanahan said; hopefully, Jimmy G is better. If not, it’s time to get your rookie ready. It won’t be easy, as San Francisco faces the league MVP through the first month of the season.

Lance looked a bit overwhelmed in his first extended action as a pro. It’s easy to get caught up in him throwing the ball too hard, and that’s why he misses, but Lance’s accuracy issue is due to mechanics. When a QB overstrides, their passes sail on them. That happened to Lance on a few occasions.

Lance looked like a player who didn’t practice. When the first read wasn’t there, he took off. I like the decisiveness, but after a week of practice, the hope is Lance can find his second or third target and let his playmakers do the work for him.

That’ll come with learning the offense, as Lance will know the responsibility for each receiver and not just one side of the concept. Here’s a look at the EPA, success rate, and first down percentage from the 49ers QBs:

Growth is the goal.

I hope Shanahan doesn’t put Lance in a “box” and lets him play his game. If Lance needs to run to be successful, then let him run. But, in the same breath, you’re going to have to trust Lance in your dropback passing game.

That doesn’t mean it has to be complex. You can run your same offense. This week of practice should be nothing but Lance simulating the “quick game” passing attack. If Garoppolo ends up missing an extended period, then the offense around Lance should continue to grow.

More than ever, it’s about the process. Yes, you have to get Lance ready for a game each week. But, at the same time, you have to find ways to develop the rookie. Of course, he’ll have to learn from his mistakes — and there will be plenty of them — but Lance’s developmental clock will be sped up now.

We’ll see what you’re made of, Kyle.