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What happened to Shanahan's plays drawn specifically for Lance?

NBC Sports

SANTA CLARA -- General manager John Lynch revealed last year that on a private plane coming back from watching Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ workout, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was already brainstorming.

Approximately a month before the 2021 NFL Draft, Shanahan was fixated on Trey Lance. And even an impressive throwing session from Fields did not distract Shanahan.

“Kyle is on his iPad with that iPad pencil, and he’s just grinding over there,” Lynch said on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast. “Finally, he said, ‘Look at this.’ I was wondering what he was doing, and he was drawing up stuff with Trey in mind."

Of course, the 49ers selected the North Dakota State product with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. Lance has been anointed the 49ers’ starting quarterback this season while Jimmy Garoppolo remains in limbo.

So whatever became of those plays that Lynch drew up on the plane that day?

“They're always there,” Shanahan answered when NBC Sports Bay Area asked him about his flash of inspiration. “Some of those plays you do with quarterbacks who can't run. It’s stuff that you could do off of what you always do. And just when you add in different guys with different skill sets, you just add another element and I feel we have a tough offense to defend.”

Shanahan said a lot of what he was thinking about involved how defenses would account for plays in the 49ers’ base defense. Lance’s strong arm and mobility allow Shanahan numerous ways to adjust to expose the weaknesses of any defense.


As for the specifics of what he was scribbling on his iPad, Shanahan said he does recall exactly where his mind took him. But it’s always a click away.

“All my notes are on an iPad, so they never go away, so I go back to them all the time,” Shanahan said. “I don't remember exactly what it was, but it's just plays that you do. And, ‘Hey, look, you can do this play in pistol,’ and then look at the run you could do with it if they did this. And now if they stopped the run here, look at the play-action we could do with it.

“And it's not like, ‘Hey, we're just saving that play for day one.’ It's, 'We're saving that play when they stop that play.' What are they not accounting for? And that's just different elements that you can look into.”

RELATED: 49ers' Lance chalks up Day 2 mistakes as win for development

Overall, Shanahan said he does not view the 49ers’ offensive objectives any differently than he did when Jimmy Garoppolo was the starter. The same principles apply, but Lance gives the 49ers more options to counter-punch.

“There's a foundation that you have to teach everyone that I think that we believe in that you have to develop,” Shanahan said. “It's not plays. It’s how a tight end and a tackle can double team a D-end up to an outside linebacker — how good they are at that. How good a guard and a center are at cutting off a shade up to the middle linebacker. How good a receiver is at beating someone.

“All those plays you have to do well at and you try to play to all your players' skill sets, but there's certain plays you have to get good at just to succeed in this league and to move the ball. And then what can Trey do differently than we've had? I do believe Trey is a threat to run at any time, so knowing that he is a threat to run at any time, that definitely changes things.”

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