I know you are dying to hear more about the 49ers quarterback situation and what happened today, but there are 88 other players on the field. So, because I care about your feelings, let’s knock out what’s important right away.
One snap for Trey Lance with the 1’s
Lance had one rep with the starters during Tuesday’s practice, which caught everyone’s attention right away. Lance has been throwing to the likes of Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, but the skill players work with each team and quarterback, so that’s not proving anything.
Shanahan, on why Lance took that one rep:
We have a 7-day install. It’s Day 6, and a certain run went in. We wanted all o-lines to get blocking with, but it’s not a run you do with all of the quarterbacks.
Shanahan is going out of his way to show the public that he uses Lance as a runner. So today, after zone-reads were the only designed running plays for Lance, the 49ers broke out what’s called “bash.”
A simple explanation to differentiate zone-read and bash:
The traditional zone read has the running back running inside zone, with the QB being the outside threat on the keep. Bash is where the RB is the outside threat, usually a sweep, and the QB is running inside zone. In addition, the 49ers added a pulling lineman, which gives Lance a lead blocker.
Lance broke two “bash” runs for long gains. The running game with him is going to be lethal.
That was the lone rep with the starters for Lance, and Shanahan remains adamant that he won’t receive reps with the starters anytime soon, and there is still no competition at QB: “He’ll start when I believe he gives us the best chance to win.”
After Tuesday’s practice, the Lance train isn’t slowing down any time soon. Lance completed 13 of his 14 attempts, with the lone incompletion coming on the final deep pass of the game.
Lance wasn’t just sharp; he was in command and did a few things that even Shanahan would compliment him over. One play that stood out was the defensive pressuring Lance, and he bought time with his legs by drifting backward before eventually finding a receiver for an eight-yard gain.
The highlight of the day came when Lance evaded the rush, rolled out slightly to the left, and heaved a deep pass to Trent Sherfield on a deep post, or “thru” route.
Starting at the 23-second mark is what the play resembled:
Some flashes of Trey Lance at his second pro day (via @NDSUfootball) pic.twitter.com/QeqIjh3dx2— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) April 19, 2021
The play was about 65 yards, and the ball had to be in the air for over 50 of those.
Jimmy wasn’t bad by any means. Garoppolo went 9-15. First, he had a throw into traffic where he didn’t see Jimmie Ward poaching underneath, leading to a pass breakup. Then, he had another tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. Finally, Brandon Aiyuk was isolated on a linebacker, but the throw was behind Aiyuk and was incomplete.
Aiyuk should have caught it, but had the throw been out in front of him, Aiyuk is still running. So today was the first time we’ve seen what the difference would look like if Lance is under center and if Jimmy is. Garoppolo: fine, with the potential of being good. Lance: safe, with the potential of being explosive.
Trent Sherfield is here to stay
We can write a few things in stone a week into practice, and one of those is Trent Sherfield making this roster. Of course, that was likely going to happen due to his experience on special teams, but Sherfield has quietly made an impact at wide receiver, with Tuesday being his best day yet.
Sherfield had more than five catches on the day, and he’s getting open at every level. He’s plenty fast, creates enough separation, and is reliable — that’s the key. It feels like Sherfield is who the team wants Richie James to be.
Sherfield was candid and refreshing after practice. Here’s why he chose to sign with the 49ers:
Trent Sherfield, a name you should get used to, on why he chose to sign with the 49ers: pic.twitter.com/8klkdaBpLM— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) August 3, 2021
Sherfield worked with the first team more than usual as Deebo Samuel sat out of practice with leg soreness. He’ll eventually have to fend off Mohamed Sanu and Jalen Hurd, but he’s been a bright spot early on in camp.
Kyle Shanahan and special teams coach Richard Hightower seemed head over heels with Sherfield’s work ethic, how he carries himself, and how the young players could learn from him.
The coaches said Sherfield is the first guy in the building at 5:30 a.m. But, Hightower said, “that’s what a pro looks like.”
I’d say get used to hearing the name Sherfield, even if it’s only for a few catches here and there sporadically during the season. One thing is clear: that’s the type of player you want on your team.