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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan: QB Trey Lance ‘doing a better job in all areas,’ won’t need to alter routine if needed to start

Dec 29, 2021 at 1:55 PM--

If Trey Lance gets the opportunity to start at quarterback for the 49ers against the Houston Texans this week, chances are fans will see an improved version of what they saw from him when he started against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.

Lance got the nod against the Cardinals due to a calf injury to starter Jimmy Garoppolo and finished 15-of-29 for 192 yards passing with one interception to go with 89 rushing yards on 16 carries in a 17-10 loss. He's only appeared in one game since then, getting some late snaps in the 49ers' 30-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 21. But he could be given his second NFL start this week due to Garoppolo coming down with a thumb injury in last Thursday's loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Even though he hasn't gotten much game action since Week 5, there's plenty of reason to think Lance has gotten better since then, starting with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saying earlier this week that Lance has had his best month of practice since the team drafted him in the spring. Shanahan gave more reason to think that on Wednesday when asked if he felt Lance has made progress towards getting the ball away faster than he did against the Cardinals.

"There were times in that game he held onto it too long," Shanahan told reporters before practice on Wednesday. "I didn't think it was all of it. I think there were times he got rid of it pretty fast. He'll get more playing time, more practice this week, and if he plays, he'll get a whole other game. I'm sure it won't be perfect, but I think he's been doing a better job in all areas the more he's gotten practice in."

There's also every reason to think Lance will be adequately prepared to start if called upon and won't need to alter his weekly routine, simply because he's been preparing to start every week throughout the entire season.

"He's been preparing like he's going to start every week," Shanahan said. "So he's kind of developed a routine throughout this year where it's no different for him when he's the backup or the starter. I think he's excited because early in the week he's got a chance, the possibility of starting. And he gets to definitely start our practice today, so I know he's excited for that. But his routine's the same."

More should be known soon enough about who will be under center for the 49ers when they host the Texans on Sunday. Garoppolo feels he could still be healthy enough to play even after tearing ligaments in his thumb on Thursday.

"I played the entire game with it basically, so it's really just about being able to grip the ball, do the things I normally do," Garoppolo said Wednesday. "We're going to go test this out today, see how it feels and go from there. But yeah, I feel confident in it."


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