Trey Lance got off to a rocky start in the 49ers' 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but head coach Kyle Shanahan sees progress from the rookie.
Shanahan believes that Lance has benefitted from all of the experience he has gained through the first four weeks of the NFL season, which has included plenty of snaps with the scout team. Lance should gain even more valuable experience this week preparing for the Arizona Cardinals, running the offense while Jimmy Garoppolo recovers from a calf injury.
“It’s huge for whoever goes in that week,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “You put in a new game plan Wednesday morning and they go in and practice it. Thursday you put in a whole new thing for third downs, short yardage, goal line and things like that.
“They go out Thursday and do that and then Friday you try to review, but you put in a bunch of red zone stuff.
Every snap is an opportunity for Lance to learn. Shanahan has designed specific offensive packages for the rookie to run when called upon, but this week Lance will get more on his plate to work with.
Shanahan has seen positive changes from Lance since training camp. The rookie got plenty of reps in the preseason and a few plays in Weeks 1 and 3. Getting the opportunity to play the entire second half of Week 4 provided even more opportunity for growth.
“He’s developing,” Shanahan said. “I thought when he got thrown into the battle here, just running the offense and not really specific plays, I thought he got more comfortable as the game went. Especially going home and watching the tape after the game, I thought there was a lot of encouraging stuff.
“Guys who are rookies and second-year players -- doesn’t matter the position -- you’re always developing. You’re always trying to get better.
While Shanahan is very aware of Lance’s athleticism and ability to buy time for the offense, the head coach wants to see his rookie quarterback develop in the pocket as well. Shanahan appreciated that Lance, after the rough start, calmed down and settled into the role and played more poised as the game progressed.
While Shanahan is holding out hope that Garoppolo will be available to start in Arizona on Sunday, he knows Lance will be as ready to start as possible if needed.