Trey Lance's small chip finger fracture is, by definition, a minor injury.
The 49ers expected the No. 3 overall pick to be able to return to practice Monday. However, they will take it slow with Lance, knowing they don't need him to take the field right away and that an injury on the throwing hand can sometimes take longer to heal or be aggravated easily.
"I mean, anytime you've got a small chip, it could linger," Shanahan told reporters Wednesday. "I hope it doesn't, I'm hoping he's back there next Monday. He seems positive about it. But we gotta be smart with it, too. Sometimes when it's a real little thing like that, it's hard to believe it's still hurt. But we gotta make sure he doesn't go back out there and have a setback right away, too."
Lance was impressive during training camp and the preseason, pushing Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job. Lance's injury likely means Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback next Sunday when the 49ers open the season against the Detroit Lions.
Shanahan, however, won't be naming a starting quarterback before the game.
"I don't need to announce the quarterback, I don't think I need to announce the starting punt returner, either, but I bet you guys could figure it out," Shanahan said.
Lance is the 49ers' future, and with a proven starter in Garoppolo on the roster, Shanahan has the luxury of being as patient as he wants to be with his rookie signal-caller.
All signs point to Lance returning soon, though, giving Shanahan the option to unleash the full power of his offense on the lowly, rebuilding Lions.