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Should Trey Lance Be Playing More?

  • The Draft Network
  • November 17, 2021
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Week 10 delivered several shocking results and upsets, and yet almost no outcome was more jaw-dropping than San Francisco's meticulous beatdown of the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. Kyle Shanahan's 49ers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, ultimately reigning victorious by a final score of 31-10.

San Francisco's offense was surprisingly efficient throughout the contest. The trio of Elijah Mitchell, Deebo Samuel, and Jeff Wilson Jr. combined to rush for 155 yards and a score on a healthy 42 carries, as Los Angeles failed to contain Shanahan's brilliant run designs on a snap-by-snap basis. Things didn't go any better for Los Angeles' secondary, as 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played his most efficient game of the 2021 campaign, completing 15-of-19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Garoppolo rarely put a wrong foot forward and routinely took advantage of an overzealous defense that was scarred by their inability to stop San Francisco's three-headed rushing attack.

The result improved the 49ers to 4-5 on the year and got them back in the ultra-competitive race for a wild-card spot in the NFC. Luring in the background of San Francisco's recent success is rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who hasn't taken a single offensive snap in San Francisco's latest three contests despite being healthy and available to do so. Although 49ers fans are undoubtedly anxious to see their No. 3 overall selection take the field, San Francisco would be wise to move forward with an improving Garoppolo, in hopes of continuing to compete for a playoff spot.

Lance understandably needs reps in order to develop his raw skill set as a thrower of the football, but they shouldn't come at the cost of damaging San Francisco's current offensive form and playoff chances. For as long as San Francisco remains in the playoff hunt, the efficient and improving Garoppolo should continue to serve as the signal-caller. That's not to say Shanahan can't utilize Lance in a creative manner that places an unwavering amount of stress on opposing defenses. To his credit, Shanahan is leaving his options open.

"I haven't made the decision not to use Lance," Shanahan recently told reporters. "The Arizona game just didn't go how we wanted it to. Going into the Los Angeles game, we didn't like a lot of the stuff in terms of matchups wise, that's why we didn't go with it."

Shanahan is approaching the situation with the correct frame of mind. Lance possesses a dual-threat skill set that can be employed while Garoppolo continues to receive the majority of the traditional snaps at quarterback. The former North Dakota State signal-caller has rushed for an inspiring 133 yards on just 27 attempts in 2021. Lance's ability to pick up chunks of yardage with his legs adds another wrinkle to a San Francisco offense that's already difficult to defend against, and Shanahan would be wise to devise an offensive game plan that hands Lance a set number of snaps on a weekly basis.

San Francisco’s offense operated in a jaw-dropping manner against the Rams. If Monday's result is any indication of a surging 49ers team that is capable of competing in the NFC, then it would be difficult to fault Shanahan for staying the course.

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