Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

After criticism from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, QB Josh Rosen gets extended chance in preseason opener

Aug 15, 2021 at 7:40 AM--

Trey Lance may have gotten the bulk of the spotlight and headlines to come out of Saturday night's 19-16 49ers preseason loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but the game might have been much more important for another quarterback -- former NFL first-round pick Josh Rosen -- who is fighting to prove he should stay on the 49ers' roster once it gets trimmed down to 53 players on August 31.

Rosen finished out Saturday night's game after Lance played from around the eight-minute mark in the first quarter to the eight-minute mark in the third quarter. He completed 10-of-15 passes for 93 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception while coming up short in an opportunity to rally the team with a game-winning drive. Rosen's competition for the No. 3 quarterback spot, veteran Nate Sudfeld, did not play on Saturday night.

Rosen was under the microscope after 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier in the week he had regressed after a strong start to training camp. It was a sign he could be slipping behind Sudfeld in the race to back up Lance and starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

"I think he started off real well," Shanahan said on August 8. "I think he's taken a couple steps back the last few practices."

After Saturday night's game, Rosen was asked about Shanahan's criticism and responded by saying he has been focused on staying level-headed while being given few opportunities to prove himself during camp practices.

"I don't really get many reps in practice so you just have to sort of weather the emotional roller coaster when one or two out of your three throws in live team reps aren't very good," Rosen said. "You definitely have to mentally work on keeping sort of a calm head. The best quarterbacks in the game are so good because they're so disciplined at making their reads, and they check the ball down when they need to take completions when it's there. Sometimes if you're in a competition and you only get two or three throws a day you just can't do something to try and show off or this, that or whatever. You just have to stay disciplined. If your four throws of the day are going to be two to the back and two in the flats or something like that, then that's what it's got to be. I'm just trying to learn the offense and get used to it and take advantage of every opportunity I have."

So what did Shanahan think of Rosen's showing Saturday night?

"I would have loved to have had a chance to go down there in that two-minute at the end," Shanahan said. "A couple tough situations, especially once you get a sack. He had some good throws. Similar to Trey though, there's a couple things he left out there. But I thought it was a decent first performance."

Both Rosen and Sudfeld will get more opportunities before the preseason concludes, although as had been the case before Saturday, it's possible Rosen's chances could be limited from here. Whatever happens, it sounds like Rosen, who joined the 49ers late in the 2020 season, will look back fondly on the time he's spent in the Bay Area.

"It's been really awesome," Rosen said Saturday. "Top to bottom, this is an amazing organization. And it's been a pleasure. I really look forward to coming to work every day. Kyle's a brilliant offensive coordinator, head coach. Today, I didn't feel great about of my performance, but in general, just coming to work every day, it's really fun playing football. I like playing for these guys, I like playing with this team. In general, very positive. I've had a lot of fun."

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