The Jalen Hurd story is bizarre. He’s been shut down for over a month on the injured reserve list. The 49ers relied on Mohamed Sanu as their third wide receiver against the Packers. Hurd could play if healthy, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon.
The questions about getting Lance more involved came on the heels of another uneven offensive performance for the 49ers in their 30-28 loss to the Packers on Sunday. For the second week in a row, the offense didn’t score any points until just before halftime and those came on a 1-yard run by Lance as time expired in the second quarter.
Before those scoring drives against Philadelphia and Green Bay in Weeks 2 and 3, the 49ers’ offense gained an average of just 65.5 first-half yards and 7 points in the first half of those games.
Those slow starts, combined with the Niners’ recent spate of running back injuries — Raheem Mostert is out for the season with a knee injury, JaMycal Hasty is on injured reserve with a high left ankle sprain and Elijah Mitchell didn’t play last week because of a right shoulder injury — left some to wonder if Shanahan might turn to Lance more frequently to help ignite a sagging run game or, at minimum, give the defense something different to look at.
“If we thought that would be the case, we’d do it,” Shanahan said.
Sure, it might be frustrating to see Lance spend the majority of his Sundays on the sidelines. The early success of Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Justin Herbert has created the belief that talented rookies can and should start right away and should be successful.
Historically, that’s just not the case.
You might have heard that Peyton Manning went 3-13 and threw 28 interceptions during his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts. Troy Aikman went 0-11 while throwing just nine touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. John Elway went 4-6 with seven touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Steve Young struggled in his first two NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, going 3-16 while throwing 11 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.
“It really just comes down to getting the play run the right way, I think,” Garoppolo said before today’s practice. “Just the little details with it. Even if [the opposing defense] shows us something we haven’t really planned for as an offense, we still have to be able to execute it. There’s a million little things that we’ve got to do, coaches, players. But at the end of the day, it’s all of us working together.”
“I think it was more of the timing when we did it,” Shanahan said of the signings of Norman and Kirkpatrick. “We weren’t sure when we were bringing them in whether they were going to be a starter or backup or whether they were even going to dress or help on special teams. We didn’t think that was the time for Sherm.”
Hurd is still eligible to return, though. He just needed to miss three games, which he has. However, the 49ers don’t feel he has made enough progress to return to the practice field this week.
“He’s just not there yet,” Shanahan told reporters before today’s practice. “The other two guys are ready to go. They’ll practice today. And when they’re ready, we’ll get them up.”
The Niners are still holding out hope that Hurd can contribute this season. The team used a third-round draft pick in 2019 to add the former Baylor player.