SANTA CLARA — The 49ers' offense sputtered at the start of their 23-7 win over the Texans, but the head coach doesn’t blame his rookie quarterback.
Kyle Shanahan’s offense was unable to put points on the board until the final drive of the first half. Their first five drives ended in a punt three times, an interception and a turnover on downs, but the head coach believes there was more to it than it being Trey Lance’s second NFL start.
While the head coach believes Lance’s excitement at the beginning of the game played a part in the slow start, it wasn’t just the rookie who was feeling a little nervous ahead of the game.
“I think everyone is, not just for Trey, but all quarterbacks are like that,” Shanahan told reporters after the win. “I thought his first pass, we missed the protection, so he wasn't able to do that and got out of the pocket pretty good on it. We were just a little off on offense, it took us a while to get going and it wasn't just one guy in particular, everyone had their turn.”
Elijah Mitchell had a record-setting performance carrying the ball 21 times for 119 yards and catching both of his targets for 11 yards and a touchdown but nearly 70 percent of his rushing yards came in the second half.
“There definitely was some rust in the first drive,” Mitchell said after the game. “I started clicking and it was good after that. By the time the second quarter came, I started to just click again.”
The 49ers finished the game averaging 6.8 yards per play after averaging 5.5 yards per play in the first half. Over 60 percent of the 49ers' 416 total yards on offense were in the second half of the game after Lance and Co. got into a rhythm.
Shanahan shared that he was thankful the defense and special teams did their part in the win, keeping the Texans from scoring outside of one drive in the first half. Houston’s 222 total yards and seven points kept the pressure off of the rookie quarterback, letting him settle into the game.
“It kind of felt like that all day,” Shanahan said. “But I was surprised just looking at the final stats, you get seven yards a play, you're doing some good things, but it just took a while to feel that way.”
The rookie himself revealed that it took him a little while to relax into the game and feel comfortable. Naturally, nerves had an effect on his second NFL start. Lance shared that he spoke to his quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan at the end of the first half.
“Yeah, I think I got into a better rhythm,” Lance said. “Probably settled in after that two-minute drive, I think that is when I started talking to Rich and Kyle and kind of let them know that I felt settled, honestly. But yeah, hopefully, can get started faster, whenever that next time is.”