The 49ers got into an old-school trench brawl with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and rookie quarterback Trey Lance could do nothing but watch from the sidelines as Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to a gusty 17-11 road win.
After getting four snaps in the 49ers' Week 1 win over the Detroit Lions, many thought Lance's usage would only increase in Week 2. But that wasn't the case as head coach Kyle Shanahan did not feel the need to insert the rookie signal-caller into the grind-it-out battle.
On Monday, Shanahan explained his thought process when it comes to Lance's usage, why it won't be a linear progression and will vary from game to game.
“No, I never have a plan that ‘Hey, I'm going to use him or I'm not going to use him.’ It's always an option throughout the game," Shanahan told reporters Monday. "It’s been two games and I've never had him in the openers and I've never had him as a designated time. I plan on doing that week-to-week and whenever I feel like putting him in. You saw when I did in Week 1 and I never got that urge in Week 2.”
Shanahan understands why people think Lance should get consistent snaps, but his job is to do what's best for the 2021 49ers.
“Yeah, I understand every angle that people want to take with it," Shanahan said. "But I also understand that we're an NFL team and we're trying to win each game and we do have a starting quarterback and that usually makes it pretty simple. But when your backup quarterback does have a skill set that can bring different things to the game, that's what gives him an option for us to do. He has something that someone has to prepare for week in and week out. And I think that's an awesome club that we have in our bag that we can use at any time.
"But you don't really make decisions based off your team of just putting a guy in totally just for how that is for him in the future. I think that'd be irresponsible to everybody else in the room. You do it if you think it gives you a chance based off of what's going on in that game, that game only. In the meantime, yeah, it's nice for a guy to get out there. But if it wasn't because he was bringing a different element that we thought could help us with something that we're going against, there's no other reason that we would do it.”
The 49ers' offense was sluggish Sunday against a stout, physical Eagles defense that thrives on interior pressure. Instead of relying on attacking them outside the numbers, the 49ers instead went to the screen game in the second half and relied on their offensive line to get them out of the City of Brotherly Love with a 2-0 record.
Lance's Week 1 usage appeared to offer a glimpse into how Shanahan wants the 49ers' offense to be able to operate at some point this season, dictating matchups by rotating Lance and Garoppolo in and out seamlessly.
It's a nice idea, but it's clear that time is still far into the future.
The 49ers knew Lance would need time to develop. That's why they kept Garoppolo and hoped he would be able to steer a steady ship this season with a roster that is built to contend for a Super Bowl while Lance got his feet wet.
The North Dakota State product has a good head on his shoulders and will learn quickly. He'll get snaps when Shanahan believes it gives the 49ers the best chance to win, not because the rookie hasn't met his weekly quota.
This is Shanahan's show. He's the director and the executive producer. You'll see the Trey Lance show when, and only when, Shanahan yells "Action!"