Shanahan explains why Lance wasn't used in loss vs. Seahawks

Trey Lance

Trey Lance hasn't taken a significant snap since Week 5, but there were a few occasions during the 49ers' 30-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on Sunday that seemed like an ideal time for coach Kyle Shanahan to call the rookie's number.

The first one that comes to mind is on the 49ers' final possession, in which San Francisco had four plays from inside the Seahawks' 10-yard line to try and tie the game and send it to overtime. Early in the season, Shanahan called on Lance in the red zone and it worked well, as the rookie QB threw a touchdown pass in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions and rushed for one in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers.

But Shanahan didn't feel that was the right time to go to the 21-year-old signal-caller.

“No, not at all. At that time in the game, we had just gone 98 yards on a drive and we’re going to put Trey in who hasn’t played in a month? I don't think that would've been right to him at all or to our team," Shanahan said Monday. "I felt really good about the plays, what we did. I would have loved for [WR] Trent [Sherfield] to come up with that catch.
"He made a real tough one versus Minnesota last week. And it was tough to make that catch with that guy all over him. I still think he could have, it’d have been a hell of a play and it was a good job on the second one. I liked the deal, it was just [Seattle Seahawks DE Carlos] Dunlap made a hell of a play getting his hands up and tipping that ball. We shouldn’t have let it get to that point, but that's stuff you have to live with.”

The 49ers handed the ball off to Elijah Mitchell on first and second down, getting to the Seattle 3-yard line with 27 seconds left. On third down, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw over the middle for Sherfield, but the play was defended well by the Seahawks. On fourth-and-goal, Garoppolo has Sherfield open on the right side but defensive end Carlos Dunlap tipped the pass at the line, sealing the win for the Seahawks.

Another instance the seemed like a logical insertion point for Lance came late in the third quarter when the 49ers were faced with a fourth-and-1 from the 39-yard line. Shanahan elected to go for it and called a surprising zone-read with Garoppolo in at quarterback. The play, however, was nullified when center Alex Mack was whistled for an illegal snap. The 49ers elected to punt after the penalty.


When asked if he thought about running the play with Lance instead of Garoppolo, Shanahan was steadfast in his belief that the play is not quarterback-dependent.

“Because we thought it was a really good play to run versus those guys," Shanahan said Monday when asked why he chose to run the zone read with Garoppolo. "We didn't pull it because it was the right pull, we pulled it because our center stopped the play because he fumbled the snap then got knocked over by the nose guard and Jimmy could see the nose guard was in the backfield, so he just tried to save the play, but we weren't expecting it to be a pull with how wide their guy played on the line of scrimmage, who I think he was out past the hash mark.

“Yeah, because you can run zone-read with anybody," Shanahan said later when asked why he wanted to run the play with Garoppolo and not Lance. "You don't need to just do that with a certain person. Lots of teams run zone-read."

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After the loss, which dropped the 49ers to 6-6, Garoppolo had a simpler way of explaining the failed zone-read that never was.

"It was supposed to be a zone read, some s--t happened," Garoppolo said Sunday.

Last week, Shanahan explained that Lance's lack of snaps was due to his rhythm as a play-caller and not a referendum on the rookie's development.

“It’s more about me to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said. “In terms of calling plays, We get into a rhythm of attacking a defense and what fronts they are playing and what coverages. Every play kind of plays off the next play and you get a feel, our players do and I, of what we are going to.”

The loss to the Seahawks dropped the 49ers to the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They still are in the driver's seat for a playoff berth but face a tough test Sunday against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

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