Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers, Texans react to Trey Lance’s performance in second start

Jan 2, 2022 at 6:20 PM--

Now that rookie quarterback Trey Lance's second NFL start is in the books, what's the verdict on his performance?

Mostly positive, at least in the eyes of members of the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans.

Lance finished 16-of-23 with 249 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 116.0 in Sunday's 23-7 win over the Texans with 31 rushing yards on eight carries. Lance's interception was part of a slow start on offense for the 49ers that saw them score just three points in the first half, but he picked things up in the second half, throwing an eight-yard touchdown pass to running back Elijah Mitchell in the third quarter and a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the fourth quarter. His performance wasn't perfect, but he did what the 49ers needed and wanted him to do overall.

"I think he did some real good things," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. "Besides the bad interception I thought he protected the ball real well. That was a big thing going into this game, and he did a good job on all those except for one play. I think he was very efficient, just looking at his numbers and things like that. That big play at the end was huge. For the most part he made some pretty good decisions running the ball."

The win was the first of Lance's NFL career and came almost three months after his first start—a 17-10 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals on October 10. Lance spent almost all of his game days on the sidelines since that start, but the 49ers needed him to step in and deliver on Sunday with Jimmy Garoppolo out due to a thumb injury. The win over the Texans was one the 49ers needed to have in order to stay in the thick of the Wild Card race, and Lance's performance was enough to help get it done despite a lack of playing time since October.

"Nothing's too big for him," Shanahan said. "He's a competitor. He enjoys playing football. He enjoys working at it. I think he really enjoys the moments, and I think it's been hard for him not playing a ton this year. When he's out there, we know we've got a guy who the guys can follow. Now it's up to Trey and us just to keep working with him and pushing him each week here, and when this offseason starts, continue to go even harder with it."

Lance was happy to be playing at Levi's Stadium on Sunday and had a fuller arsenal of weapons after not having tight end George Kittle against the Cardinals in Week 5. But aside from that, he didn't think there were too many differences between his two starts.

"It was good to be at home," Lance said Sunday. "A lot quieter on offense—that helps. It was good to have George [tight end George Kittle] back also, and Elijah [running back Elijah Mitchell] obviously. I think us being at full strength without Jimmy helps me out a lot, gives me a lot of confidence. But I don't think I felt a whole lot different coming into it. I felt just as prepared. Obviously I feel like I'm further along and continuing better with every practice, every rep I take. But I don't think mentally or mindset-wise it was anything different."

Shanahan was far from the only one to weigh in on Lance's performance on Sunday. Here's a rundown of what was said about Lance from both locker rooms.

* Texans head coach David Culley: "He played well enough for them to win today. He gave us a chance—he gave us the one pick right there. The thing about him is he's very mobile. He keeps plays alive. He ended up making some throws outside the pocket that kept some drives alive. He played well."

* 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell: "He did good, man. He was talking to us, he was calling plays fast. I was proud of what he did today."

* Texans defensive back Desmond King: "Second half, he showed some resiliency. Just coming back out in the second half, taking care of the ball and making the right choices and decisions out there at quarterback. He has some really great potential and I'm just looking forward to seeing what he's got coming for the next years."

* 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel: "He had a good week of practice. The first half, we kind of started off slow. And as you can see, in the second half he played outstanding. He was able to hit a couple balls, and once you see a couple guys make plays for you, it gives you confidence to keep doing it, and that's what he went out and did."

* Texans defensive lineman Jordan Jenkins, who had the lone sack of the day on Lance: "He's a fast guy. He's a little bit taller than I thought, a little bit heavier when we take him down. But he's not afraid to take a hit. He's not afraid to fight for that extra effort. He had some good progress out there today."

Garoppolo will be back in the starting spot if he's healthy enough to play in the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, but the 49ers have confidence in Lance if he gets the call once again, even with the high stakes of next week's game (if the 49ers beat the Rams, they're in the playoffs—if not, they'll need some outside help).

"There was never not confidence in Trey," linebacker Fred Warner said. "He's shown who he is the entire year, regardless of if he's playing or not. Especially on defense—we go against him all the time. So we know he's talented. We know he's smart, he's mature, and he handles himself well. The moment's never too big, and the supporting cast around him is pretty darn good too. So I've never been worried about that."

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