Trey Lance played well for a rookie who hadn’t thrown a regular-season pass in 2.5 months and was in his second start. It took a bit for him to get into a rhythm, but you could see the talent Lance possesses once he settled in.
Lance was 13-of-16 for 174 yards and a touchdown on throws in the air under 20 yards. More importantly, eight of his passes went for a first down. This offense is based on efficiency, and Lance executed.
Did Kyle Shanahan see enough from Lance to start him against the Rams in a must-win game? That’s not the question we should be asking. As Lance and Shanahan said after the game, this remains Jimmy Garoppolo’s show to run — when he’s healthy.
During his postgame media availability, Shanahan said Garoppolo still has yet to throw a football as of Saturday. So here’s the most Kyle Shanahan answer possible regarding the 49ers QB situation heading into Week 18:
“If Jimmy’s a hundred percent healthy and could do everything, like perfect, then I would definitely go with Jimmy. I’m not just going to throw a guy in after one game like this, when Jimmy’s been doing it for us all year. I think it’s going to be hard for Jimmy to be a hundred percent, which is how most people are right now at this time of year. But Trey did a good job, if Jimmy can’t go, we won’t hesitate at all. But if we feel Jimmy can go and play confident, then Jimmy will be out there.”
The follow-up question asked if Jimmy needs to be 100% for Shanahan to feel comfortable playing the veteran quarterback, to which Shanahan said, “nope.”
So Shanahan says a lot of words without really saying anything. I understand the gamesmanship aspect, but the Rams are preparing for Lance. Logic says Garoppolo won’t play Sunday. He injured his thumb on December 23.
The Rams game is on January 9. Jimmy’s recovery time was 4-6 weeks. For him to return in 17 days would be a minor miracle. Also, it wouldn’t be in the team's best interest to roll out a quarterback that likely can’t grip the ball — a critical aspect of playing the position.
We’ll talk about the line on the game more in-depth later, but San Francisco being 5-point underdogs to a team they’ve beaten five times in a row would suggest a rookie quarterback is starting.
Who do you think we see Sunday against the Rams?