Shanahan proud of how Lance handled first career NFL start

Trey Lance

Trey Lance didn't come out of his first career NFL start with a win, but his head coach had plenty of positive things to say about the 49ers rookie quarterback's performance. 

In the 49ers' 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, Lance completed 15 of his 29 attempts for 192 yards and one interception. He also led the team with 89 rushing yards on 16 carries. 

Kyle Shanahan appreciated the mettle his young quarterback showed being thrown into the starting role after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf injury in Week 4. The head coach has been clear that Lance still is learning, but there was a lot of good that came from his first NFL start.

“I was proud of him,” Shanahan said. “I thought he went into a tough environment versus a real good team. I thought he did a lot of real good things. Threw a bad pick on that first drive, but I thought he bounced back well. 

“I thought he was aggressive on what he saw. When he saw it right, he let it rip. When he didn't think something was there, he ran aggressively. I thought he did a real good job through it all and handled the noise pretty well. And I thought it was a good first experience for him.”

While it might have looked like the 49ers called a lot of designed runs for Lance, Shanahan explained that most of the plays had options for the quarterback to pass as well. Shanahan appreciated how Lance’s potential to escape the pocket and beat the Cardinals with his legs kept the defense “honest.” This allowed the offense to take advantage of the looks Arizona was showing.  


Shanahan saw Lance’s choice to hold onto the ball in certain situations as a sign that the rookie is appropriately going through the right reads. On the young quarterback’s interception early in the game, there was a lot of open field in front of him. 

Instead of running and gaining at least 10 yards, Lance opted to try and hit Travis Benjamin for what would have been a bigger play. Unfortunately, the ball sailed and was intercepted by Cardinals safety Budda Baker. 

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While Lance made mistakes Sunday, Shanahan didn't see any of them as “drastic.” The head coach believes that the rookie quarterback kept the team in the game with a chance to leave the desert with a win. 

Shanahan also announced Monday that Lance suffered a knee sprain in the loss and could be out for one to two weeks. His status for the 49ers' Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts is up in the air.

While Shanahan still stands by his previous statement that Garoppolo is the starting quarterback when healthy and Lance is the team’s backup, he has no doubt Lance can help the 49ers this season.

“It doesn't change my opinion, big picture," Shanahan said. "Trey definitely has the ability to help us win games. I thought he was a big part of why we had a chance to win that game yesterday. I just wish we could've played better around him too. 

"Not that he was perfect by any means, but he gave us a very good chance to win that game. And I know he will give us a chance to win a lot going forward.”

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