Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan, Trey Lance find positives and negatives from preseason debut

Aug 14, 2021 at 10:52 PM--

Trey Lance had his share of ups and downs during his 49ers preseason debut, displaying some dazzling ability at times while also showing there are a number of areas where he has some things to learn.

In other words, the talented rookie quarterback's debut went more or less exactly how 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wanted it to go.

Lance played around two quarters of football in the 49ers' 19-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night, finishing 5-of-14 for 128 yards with one touchdown. Two of Lance's completions -- an 80-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield and a 35-yard completion to tight end Charlie Woerner from the one-yard-line -- set the Internet abuzz. Lance's numbers also would have been better had there not been a few drops from 49ers receivers. But he had some throws that went off the mark while also getting sacked four times.

So, while there were reasons to get excited from what Lance displayed Saturday night, there will also be plenty of opportunities for Shanahan to teach him some lessons from what they'll see on film.

"There was some good and some bad," Shanahan said after the game. "By no means was it perfect. He definitely missed a couple. There's a couple spots that you'd like him to go to different places, sometimes a couple balls that sailed on him I think he'd like to have back. But he also came out pretty good too, making the right plays, getting the right spots. I think he had a couple drops there, especially on a third down. I think he could have kept the drive going if they had caught it. But was a good first day. I didn't want it to go perfect for him. You'd like some things that he can learn from and a lot of things we can go over tomorrow."

Lance had a similar feeling about his performance. He was visibly excited after the game to be back on the field again after playing in only one game last season due to COVID-19 restrictions, but he also regretted not capitalizing on every chance he had Saturday night.

"It was fun. Obviously left a lot of big plays out there," Lance said. "Wish I would have had taken advantage of the opportunities that were given a few times, especially at the end of the half, starting that first drive of the second half. But it was awesome to be out there playing again. I have great guys around me obviously, just needed to do a little bit better job of getting those guys the ball."

One of the biggest negatives to come from the game were the sacks. Shanahan and Lance will dissect those in the days ahead (Lance said he planned on starting his film sessions later this evening) and will learn from there where things went wrong. Shanahan suggested there were a mix of issues that contributed to the sacks, with some of it coming from Lance and some of it a result of mistakes from other players.

"I think there's a couple situations where you don't want to be in some third-and-longs and stuff," Shanahan said. "It's never good right there. You can always get rid of the ball faster, just not to take a sack. But Trey's got to find that part of his game, whether to hold onto it, try to make a play, whether to get rid of it. I thought there was a couple times when we got beat off the edge where we were supposed to help a tackle a little bit from the guys who were in the backfield, which is stuff you can go over and review, stuff you want to do in practice, but they need to do a little bit better in the game though."

Lance, on the other hand, sounded like a veteran quarterback after the game by putting the blame entirely on his shoulders.

"The offensive line did a great job today," Lance said. "It's on me 100 percent as far as protection goes and everything like that -- me using my legs to make plays and extend plays and extend drives. I wish I would have done that a little better tonight as well."

On the plus side, Lance gained some extremely valuable experience Saturday night. He got two chances towards the end of the first half at executing the two-minute offense and also was able to run plays from a number of different starting points.

"I was real happy with that," Shanahan said. "I thought he got a number of situations. He was in a bunch of down and distances and was able to play in all of the spots on the field. You put him in a lot of situations in practice -- you want it to come up in the game. I guess for the two full quarters that he played, he got more situations than I thought he would."

Lance and the 49ers will be back on the field next Sunday when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Chargers. He showed an ability to bounce back and fight through some hurdles during the loss to the Chiefs, so there's little doubt he'll be able to learn from his debut and take a step forward in his next outing. He's already looking forward to getting the opportunity.

"That's just kind of what football is, especially this position," Lance said. "Just continue to turn the page on mistakes. I thought I did that mentally. But obviously, like I said, I didn't make every play tonight. The plays that were called were really, really good ones, so I left some big ones out there that I noticed and we noticed on the sideline. So for me, it was frustrating obviously leaving those plays out there. I wanted to put more points on the board and put Josh [backup QB Josh Rosen] in a better situation coming into the game. Our defense played so well. That gave us a shot to stay in it the whole game. So for me, a little frustrated but at the same time super excited to go watch the tape and learn from everything that I did, super excited for next week."

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