Trey Lance is QB2. Trey Lance is QB2. Repeat it as many times as necessary to make sure it sticks.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan would likely prefer you do that instead of asking another question about Jimmy Garoppolo’s job security, whether directly or indirectly. This is Garoppolo’s job, and Lance is there to learn behind him and get his chances in between.
“Trey’s our backup quarterback. This isn’t the preseason,” Shanahan said when asked about the scarcity of Lance’s reps during the week. “We’re not just going back and forth all the time. Trey goes in for specific plays or things we want to do.
“Trey week in and week out he gets better each week the more reps he gets on scout team. But there’s not a big decision going into that each week. We put in a game plan for our starting quarterback, the backup needs to be able to do all of that if he gets hurt. And what’s cool about Trey is because of his different skillset we always keep him alive with a couple of plays on situations.”
Those couple of plays have produced positive outcomes for the 49ers, adding at least a sprinkling of fuel to the fire that rages beneath every quarterback chosen in the first round. The winds that fan the flames constantly ask: When will it be the kid’s turn?
Garoppolo’s performance within the offense hasn’t exactly been enough to silence doubters, or those eager to pass the torch to Lance. The offense has struggled at times to find consistent rhythm, though Garoppolo was able to engineer two scoring drives in the fourth quarter Sunday night, including one that temporarily put San Francisco ahead with 0:37 left to play.
This isn’t the 2004 Tim Rattay-led 49ers, and Lance certainly isn’t Ken Dorsey. San Francisco can and will be competitive with Garoppolo at the controls, even if he’s not the shiny new toy.
Understandably, folks want more out of a 49ers team that reached the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. They’re (mostly) healthy again and appear poised to go on another run, but because San Francisco moved up to select Lance and has used him in special packages, this discussion probably won’t go away until Garoppolo leaves town. Either that, or he puts together an MVP-caliber season, something he’s yet to do in the NFL.
As such, the questions will keep coming about the 49ers’ quarterback situation and how they dole out reps, both in practice and in game.
“No, there’s not a quarterback battle right now,” Shanahan said. “We’re going with our starting quarterback who I think is playing very well. I’m happy that he is so Trey is not thrown into any situations he has to do too early. If he ever is thrown into that, then I know Trey will deal with that and he’ll get better as it goes, but we have a luxury where we don’t have to do that yet to Trey or to our team. So, hopefully we won’t have to.”
Garoppolo winced for a moment after he was tripped in Sunday night’s game, and the collective viewing audience all held its breath for a few beats. Fortunately, he avoided injury. And as Shanahan said, hopefully they won’t have to turn to plan B in 2021.
That plan will become the primary in due time.
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