SANTA CLARA -- Trey Lance has been making strides at practice since his last start for the 49ers on Oct. 10.
With Jimmy Garoppolo’s health in question for Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Texans, the rookie quarterback could get the call to start. Kyle Shanahan shared on Monday that Lance has had his best weeks of practice in December while playing on the scout team.
The head coach believes that the QB's improved health has made a difference, along with more time on the field after missing his final season at North Dakota State due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“[It] is all scout team, but the same plays as us,” Shanahan said via conference call. “That just shows how consistently he has been throwing the ball, how he is moving, his accuracy, his decisions, everything.
“You have to do a lot of stuff, and try stuff you normally wouldn’t do all the time, not on scout team. And I think if you talk to the defensive coaches, defensive players or myself watching it, I think we'd all feel the same.”
Lance suffered a finger injury in the 49ers' final preseason game that affected him through the first weeks of the regular season. In his first start vs. the Cardinals in Week 5, the rookie also suffered a knee sprain, which sidelined him for a little over a week.
Now, unhampered by injuries, Lance has been able to make improvements to his game.
Kyle Juszczyk might not spend a lot of time with the rookie quarterback during practice, but the fullback has seen progress nonetheless.
“I’ve seen good stuff in the limited time that I spend with him,” Juszczyk said on Monday. “He’s with the running backs for a little bit during [individual drills], throwing balls to us and handing off, that kind of stuff. We don’t watch too much of the scout team, but everything that I’ve seen, has been positive and everything I’ve heard from the defense has been positive.”
More than once, Lance has been awarded scout team player of the week for his job “playing” the opposing quarterback in practice. The 49ers' defense has had the challenge of facing the dual-threat rookiem and Samson Ebukam has seen an evolution.
“He’s more confident when he’s slinging that rock,” Ebukam said on Monday. “Whenever there is a close pocket on him he knows how to evade. He’s definitely come a long way and definitely more confident in the pocket, what we see in practice.
“He has a big connection with all his teammates making sure that everybody is good. He is turning into a leader for sure.”
Monday’s practice was an abbreviated walk-through, but if Garoppolo is re-evaluated on Wednesday and unable to practice, Lance will get his turn to prove how far he has come since his Week 5 performance in the desert.