Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young scoffs at the idea that 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan is to blame for Trey Lance’s injury

Sep 23, 2022 at 8:35 AM--

There's been no shortage of individuals within the San Francisco 49ers organization that have come to Kyle Shanahan's defense this week. A very vocal segment of the fanbase and media has criticized the head coach's use of Trey Lance. The quarterback suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the first quarter of Sunday's win against the Seattle Seahawks.

One respected analyst, a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and 49ers icon, believes the idea that Shanahan is to blame for Lance's injury is laughable.

"Look, it's football, and running quarterbacks out of the huddle is dangerous," Steve Young told KNBR's Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland on Thursday. "You remember last year when Trey played—I think it was against the Cardinals—I think [Shanahan] ran him 13 times out of the huddle. I mean, we all kind of were like, 'Really, is that what we're doing?'

"At some level, you want to believe that we're putting Trey in the best spot to be successful. Running him, certainly, we saw last year, was going to be in the cards. And so I worry that Trey—like, there's guys that can run because they understand how to get down and get out of trouble, and there's guys that don't."

Lance started only two games last season, throwing a combined 71 pass attempts as a rookie. In 2020, he played just one game at North Dakota State due to COVID protocols.

"Trey has so little history that we can draw on," Young said. "Everything's new knowledge. Is Trey maybe not that guy to be calling quarterback runs out of the huddle? We thought he was, but maybe not."

While Young feels bad for Lance having to endure the road back from such a devastating injury, his surgery on Monday was successful. The young quarterback is expected to recover fully and be ready for the start of the 2023 season.

The problem is that this is yet another abbreviated year for the inexperienced quarterback. Heading into last year's draft, most saw Lance as a high-ceiling quarterback who needed time to develop. Unfortunately, that development will now have to wait until year three.

"I think there remains tons of questions because we all have them, and he has to go prove it to us all," Young said. "As far as Kyle's culpability for an injury—Tom, I've got to be honest with you. That's kind of a goofball question."

Young looked back to his own playing days and being asked to execute quarterback runs. He retired with 4,239 career rushing yards.

"They believed I could do it, and that's OK," Young shared. "And I believe that they believed that Trey could do that. If that's putting Trey in too much risk ... Hey, look, quarterback runs for Tom Brady, that would be culpable. That would be a problem. That would be, what are you doing? But a quarterback run for Trey Lance? That's part of the deal, isn't it? And he got hurt, and I hate that.

"My point is maybe, going forward, when Trey gets back on the field, now we realize it might not be the thing that really he's comfortable doing because we're finding this out. I don't have a lot of tape of him running quarterback runs in college and high school, really. So that's what's hard.

"Isn't that part of the deal we made with Trey, is that we believed he was a guy that could do that? So [Shanahan] makes the call, and he gets hurt. So the idea that he's [to blame]—I don't know. I'm not much for that one."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Young below.

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