If there’s any shot that Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t 100% then there’s no way he suits up on Sunday. Not after the 49ers brought Jimmy back way too early last year after a high-ankle sprain that lingered for the rest of the season.
For all of the uncertainty that he showed in the pocket, though, Lance showed exactly why he probably should have started over Garoppolo from the start, even though Garoppolo was the better quarterback from a traditional passing perspective and running the “Shanahan offense.”
When plays broke down, Lance escaped the pocket easily with his feet, highlighted by an impressive 4th-and-10 conversion when he avoided two sack opportunities, then ran up the middle for the first down.
In a pretty dire situation, Lance gave the 49ers an opportunity to compete even with a game plan that wasn’t built for him. With the benefit of a full week, you should expect to see more play-action rollout opportunities that compliment his skillset.
Shanahan said after the game that Lance has a lot to learn, and that’s been shown by the rookie performances around the league.
Kyle Shanahan and his offense
The NFL refers to Shanahan as an offensive prodigy. Right now, it feels like a Scottish folklore — the Loch Ness Monster. Nobody has seen it or proved it exists. But that does not stop people from believing. Where is the so-called offense? It is a shame that a team with an offensive head coach relies on a first-year defensive coordinator to bail them out.
The 49ers offense kept Seattle’s hopes alive in the first half. Seattle would have been buried deep only to emerge if an earthquake happened on the San Andreas Fault if this were another team.
Shanahan keeps bringing up players from his past or ones who are injury-prone. He refused to develop Trey Lance during the offseason. Lance looked a bit clueless at times during the second half yet kept fighting.
Another issue was San Francisco’s inability to stop Seattle’s ground game. The Seahawks rushed for 105 yards, with the vast majority coming in the second half. While Seattle averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, it ran for seven first downs in the final two quarters.
This is a concerning trend for the San Francisco defense, which ranks 20th in yards per carry allowed. The 49ers have conceded at least 100 yards rushing in every game this season. This also could be a problem against the Cardinals in Week 5—Chase Edmonds, James Conner and Kyler Murray combined for 209 rushing yards against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
If the 49ers cannot begin stopping the run with more consistency, competing in the brutal NFC West will be borderline impossible.
Garoppolo was not as productive through 3 1/2 games as could have been expected from him at this stage in his career. He was not having a bad season. He was not having a good season.
Lance now will likely get a full week to prepare as the starter. The game plan against the Cardinals will be tailored specifically to his strengths and weaknesses.
Lance will make mistakes. We know that. But he also has the physical talent to overcome his lack of experience by using his arm and legs to generate plays Garoppolo simply cannot.
All players being healthy, it is understandable to think why Shanahan believes Garoppolo gives the 49ers the best chance of beating the Cardinals. But all players are not healthy.