Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Trey Lance discusses improvement since last week, preparations for possible start against Rams

Jan 7, 2022 at 3:38 PM--

If Trey Lance has to start at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this week in their pressure-packed showdown against the Los Angeles Rams, he'll at least have a good idea what he's getting into, along with a little more improvement under his belt since his previous start.

Lance's status for Sunday's game in Los Angeles (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT, FOX) remains up in the air due to the lingering uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo, who was sidelined in favor of Lance against the Houston Texans last week due to a thumb injury. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has yet to announce who will start the game at quarterback, but Lance has been staying ready this week, in part, by splitting reps with Garoppolo after getting all of the first-team reps last week.

"Obviously I didn't get them all," Lance told reporters after practice Friday. "Jimmy's back limited this week. It was good for me obviously to still be able to get some reps at the same time and work through with Jimmy. It was unique a little bit with us being able to talk through reps that we both get. I think Kyle did a great job for me personally, just being able to prepare still this week and still being able to get some reps, not knowing obviously what's going to happen with Jimmy on Sunday."

Those reps have helped Lance to improve on what he showed in practice leading up to his start against the Texans. Shanahan told reporters Friday that he felt Lance had a better week of practice than he did last week, and Lance seemed to agree.

"I just think throughout this season, every single rep that I get, I get better," Lance said. "And I think I learn so much from every rep, whether it's practice or a game. Like I said, being able to have Jimmy out there and being able to be limited throwing some this week I think helped me a lot also."

Also helping Lance if he needs to start this week is the fact he was able to deliver when the 49ers needed him to in the 23-7 win over the Texans. The game carried heavy playoff implications, as does Sunday's game against the Rams—one where the 49ers can clinch a Wild Card spot with a victory. The situation might seem like one that would carry a lot of pressure for a rookie quarterback with just two NFL starts under his belt, but Lance isn't fazed, saying he feels the same about this week as he did heading into his start against the Texans as well as his start against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.

"The stakes were the same last week in my head, and honestly in Arizona," Lance said. "It's really not like I try any harder, prepare harder or better just because this could be it—it's win or go home. But it really was the same exact stakes last week, so nothing really changes."

Lance would likely get a stiffer challenge from the opponent this week than he did against the 4-12 Texans. The talent-laden Rams are fighting for an NFC West title and feature a long list of star players on both sides of the ball, led by two elite players on defense in lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. But the 49ers have won five straight over the Rams, and Lance seems confident they'll be able to do it again as long as they can protect the football.

"From a personnel standpoint, obviously they have a lot of guys that can take over the game and change the game," Lance said. "The biggest thing for us offensively is just taking care of the ball. As long as we don't have turnovers offensively, I trust that our defense is going to get stops and get takeaways. I think that's really all we need to worry about."

Lance certainly sounds ready if the 49ers need him to play. But the safe bet at this point might be to assume Garoppolo gets the nod, given the progress he showed throughout the week. If Garoppolo feels healthy and confident enough, chances are he won't let a little thumb pain stand in his way of starting in the season finale.

"Obviously I've never had the injury, but I know how tough Jimmy is," Lance said. "I know that it hurts when he throws and things like that. I know he's going to do everything he can to play on Sunday, and I know he's a tough freakin' dude, so whatever he can do, he will."

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