Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


49ers-Lions: QB Trey Lance’s early participation wasn’t planned but always remains an option

Sep 12, 2021 at 3:44 PM--


Trey Lance throwing the first touchdown of the regular season for the 49ers might not quite have been what they envisioned before the start of their 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but it turned out to be a good move nonetheless.

Lance shuffled in and out of preseason games with starter Jimmy Garoppolo, so there was always a chance the 49ers could do something similar once the regular season started. It happened on their second offensive possession of the game when Lance was inserted deep in Lions territory for a running play, then once more to seal the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield. It sounds like the decision to play Lance early on was a simple matter of in-game play calling rather than it being something that was planned in advance.

"I actually didn't think we would do it on the first drive, but you get into some situations, and that's all play calling is to tell you the truth," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said following the game.

Lance didn't know he'd be playing at that point in the game, much less get a chance to throw a touchdown pass. He's certainly happy he got the opportunity.

"I had no idea when or if I was going to play," Lance said Sunday. "Obviously I was hoping I would get to get on the field and just help, but at the same time, my role is just to be ready whenever my name is called."

Garoppolo played well enough on Sunday (17-of-25, 314 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions) to quiet any talk about Lance taking over the starting spot for the time being. But Lance being an option on offense always remains a possibility.

"We'll always have some stuff in for Trey," Shanahan said. "When your number two quarterback has a skillset that the number one doesn't do in terms of being a threat to run, there's always an option of different plays you can run. So we'll have that up at all times while Trey's here. While he's the number two that'll always be an option. But if the one ever gets hurt, then you have to open everything up."

It also marked the most meaningful regular season action for Lance since 2019. COVID-19 restrictions limited Lance to a single game during his final year at North Dakota State, so Sunday's game was the first time in almost two years that he played in a game that had a normal level of regular season importance.

"It just felt great to be out there again, and obviously it feels good to be 1-0," Lance said.





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