SANTA CLARA -- Trey Lance is likely to start Sunday for the 49ers in a crucial game against the Houston Texans at Levi's Stadium.
But, as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance showed deference to the veteran quarterback when he spoke to the media on Friday.
“Jimmy is our starting quarterback, so if he can go on Sunday, I’m going to continue to do my job and be as prepared as I can in case something happens to him,” Lance said.
Lance took part in his first extended question-and-answer session with the media since Oct. 10, when he made his first career start.
With Garoppolo listed as doubtful to play against the Houston Texans on Sunday due to a torn right thumb ligament, Lance is in line to make his second NFL start as the 49ers control their own destiny for a spot in the NFC playoffs.
Lance said he believes he has made all-around improvements since he started and played the entire way in a 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Lance said it was “huge” for him to get that playing time early in the season. One play that stood out was the fourth-and-goal play from the Cardinals’ 1-yard line in which Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons stopped him short of the goal line.
“The 4th-and-1 on the goal line, if I score there, it changes the whole game,” Lance said. “That’s one of the plays I look back on most frustrated with myself that I didn’t make that happen. And let those guys down right there.”
Since that time, Lance took on the role as Garoppolo's backup and the quarterback who runs the scout team against the 49ers’ first-team defense during practices.
Lance said observing how Garoppolo handles himself in situations and in his weekly preparation has provided him with valuable learning experiences behind the scenes. Lance said he also is feeling healthier than at any point since being with the 49ers.
Lance sustained a chipped bone in his right index finger in a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders. He said it became more difficult to finish his throws because he could not straighten his finger.
Lance has not attempted a pass since the Week 5 game against the Cardinals. On the season, he has completed 25 of 48 passes (52 percent) for 354 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
“It was frustrating, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t throw the football,” he said. “It’s more of a thing where the inflammation when I chipped the bone, it wouldn’t straighten all the way.
“So it’s been a continuous thing every day just working at it getting it straighter and straighter and straighter and, obviously, to get the swelling to go down.”