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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Why Kyle Shanahan didn’t give Trey Lance more playing time during 49ers-Jaguars

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 22, 2021 at 5:30 PM--

During Sunday's victory against the Jaguars, 49ers quarterback Trey Lance got his first live snaps since his first NFL start in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, although most of them were handoffs.

While the game seemed out of reach for much of the fourth quarter, head coach Kyle Shanahan elected not to put his rookie into the game to gain some of that "game-time" experience that Shanahan alluded to last week.

Lance trotted out for the first time in over a month during the 49ers last offensive series, in which he handed the ball off twice, rushed once, and kneeled twice to end the game.

When asked about whether Shanahan had any thoughts about putting Lance in a series or two earlier, the head coach stated that his personnel decisions weren't reliant on just the rookie quarterback, but rather the entire team.

"No, I didn't [think about putting Trey Lance in earlier]," Shanahan said. "I don't think about one person in those situations. I think about our whole team. I'm not just playing one person for his own experience. I try to make a decision on what's best for the team and how to win that day. And I think it was a three-score game until I did take everybody out, not just Trey.

"Once we kicked that field goal, I think it was when we got 30 and at least made it four scores. Then I did it first on all the defensive guys and they went on a long drive, which I think went from like six minutes to three minutes. But then I did it on all the offensive guys too."

As Shanahan said, Lance was not the only rookie to play Sunday, as Trey Sermon, Aaron Banks, Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, Jaylon Moore, and Talanoa Hufanga all played at some point during San Francisco's 30-10 blowout against Jacksonville.

Talk about Lance getting significant play time has simmered in recent weeks as starter Jimmy Garoppolo has had himself a hot stretch as off late, being one of the most efficient quarterbacks since San Francisco's Week 8 win in Chicago, which has lead the 49ers back to .500 and in the playoff hunt yet again.

Whether that strategy changes to incorporate Lance's rushing strengths is yet to been seen, but, in the earlier stages of the season, Lance was most used in the redzone. With the 49ers having the most efficient redzone conversion rate in the NFL at the moment, Lance hasn't been asked to shoulder the load, yet get any major snaps in that area at all.

Now, the best way to see the young quarterback may just be in blowouts like Sunday's game, but as the 49ers continue to roll, it doesn't seem like Kyle Shanahan is in any rush to insert his third overall pick into significant game action any time soon.

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