Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan, Trey Lance ‘excited’ about 49ers rookie’s first start

Oct 8, 2021 at 2:15 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers have ruled out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. That means head coach Kyle Shanahan will rely on rookie Trey Lance to knock off the division leaders in his first NFL start.

It isn't easy to know what to expect from the rookie. Last weekend was his first extended playing time. While things started somewhat shaky for the 21-year-old quarterback, he did appear to get more comfortable as the game progressed.

Lance finished the game 9-of-18 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 41 rushing yards on seven carries.

What does Shanahan expect from his rookie on Sunday?

"Even quarterbacks who have played a thousand games before, you have quarterbacks who are great throwers, and all of a sudden, one day, they struggle," Shanahan shared this afternoon. "So, that's how the league is every single Sunday. I'm excited to see him play.

"I know he's got the ability to do a lot of things, but it's going to be his first time out there for the whole game, and I'm just pumped to see him play. But I don't go into it expecting anything. You try to prepare a guy as good as you can. From our standpoint, I know he's done his part in preparing. Then, when Sunday comes, that's usually the spot where you get to have fun and just cut it loose, and you live with the results."

Like his coach, Lance is enthusiastic about the situation. Obviously, he wishes it had been under different circumstances. But, regardless of how it happened, the rookie knows he has a job to do on Sunday.

"I'm excited, obviously, but I'm not going to make it bigger than what it is," Lance said. "I feel prepared, and I had a good week preparing. Honestly, it was pretty similar to how I usually do. Obviously, getting more reps.

"I was hoping Jimmy would be healthy, for sure, but he's done an awesome job. And him and Nate [Sudfeld] have helped me out a ton this week, and [quarterbacks coach] Rich [Scangarello] and Coach Shanahan, as well. So, I'm excited for it, for sure. Excited for the opportunity."

Shanahan did want to make one thing clear. Sunday does not represent a transition from Garoppolo to Lance for the starting quarterback job.

"Our starting quarterback is hurt," Shanahan explained. "If he would have been 100 percent today, we would have gone with him."

One of the players who will be hauling in passes from Lance is Deebo Samuel. How does the third-year wide receiver feel his rookie quarterback looked in practice this week?

"I think Trey looked very well," Samuel told reporters. "We've got the guys out there that can bring the energy and also build the confidence. And we just went out there this week, and he was the one who took the starter reps. And we know Jimmy's a warrior, and he's doing everything he can to come back.

"But certainly this week, we have to rock with Trey, so we're going to go out there and do what we have to do."

Added Lance: "I feel very prepared, though. I really do. And I think that's a credit to the coaching staff and the guys around me. Those guys have made me feel very confident this week, and I feel confident in myself, just as I did going into the Seattle game, and just as I did every other week before this."

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