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3 QB takeaways from Week 2 of the 49ers preseason

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 21, 2023 at 6:08 PM--

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After a brutal 34-7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1 of the preseason, the San Francisco 49ers bounced back for a 21-20 comeback win on a game-winning field goal against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.

Of course, the quarterbacks were in the spotlight for much of the game, as starter Brock Purdy returned to live-game action for the first time since suffering a torn UCL in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles back in January.

Additionally, Sam Darnold and Trey Lance took all of the backup reps, with the former receiving the entirety of the second and third quarters, while the latter finished the game off and helped secure the victory at the end.

What were some of my quarterback takeaways from Week 2 of the preseason?

Kyle eases Brock in

Last weekend, head coach Kyle Shanahan dialed up a number of pass plays for Trey Lance to start the game, and the quarterback didn't see much success, as the offense went three-and-out on each of the first three drives.

However, I didn't hate the decision to give Lance some opportunities to showcase his talents, as the quarterback missed some opportunities that could've led to extended drives, although pressure was consistently there.

This weekend, Shanahan dialed up five passes on the first six plays from scrimmage for Brock Purdy, which allowed for the offense to march downfield quickly, as the head coach eased his quarterback in.

Purdy hit Samuel on a pair of easy short passes that ended up going for 25 and 14 yards, respectively. Additionally, Purdy hit an open Brandon Aiyuk on a slant that went for 15 yards and had a really solid throw to Jauan Jennings on a play-action pass, electing to push the ball downfield to the second level and giving his receiver a chance instead of checking the ball down.

It was an efficient outing for Purdy, who finished 4/5 for 65 yards, in his return, but a good job by Kyle Shanahan to ease his quarterback in during his first action back from injury, resulting in an easy scoring drive against the Broncos' top defense.

Lance starts slow

A recurring theme this offseason has been the inconsistencies at the quarterback position by all three players, and quarterback Trey Lance has been at the forefront of the action, seeing some of the best, as well as the worst practices of any signal-caller.

But, a commonality with Lance has been slower starts before rebounding with his performances, and that was the case again on Saturday.

Lance saw his first touches at 1:22 in the third quarter after Sam Darnold took a majority of the snaps in the middle quarters, and his first drive resulted in an interception on a screen pass intended for running back Jeremy McNichols, where the quarterback had to kill the play instead of putting the ball in harm's way, even if the playcall asked for a screen.

Following that, Lance began to settle in, delivering a solid ball on an incompletion to Ronnie Bell that was well-defended by cornerback Faion Hicks, although the play was negated by a defensive penalty.

Lance's next throw was a deep attempt to Cameron Latu near the endzone where the quarterback was hit by two defenders, but threw an accurate ball that the tight end should've come up with. A holding penalty and a few incompletions caused the 49ers to settle for a field goal.

However, Lance's two best drives were his final two, as the quarterback completed six passes in a row to convert a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to bring the game to within two points, although the 49ers couldn't convert the two-point conversion.

Then, the quarterback hit Ronnie Bell on two consecutive plays for 19 and 43 yards respectively, leading the 49ers to within field goal range, where they ultimately set up the game-winner for Jake Moody.

Lance started slow, but the additional reps allowed him to get his feet wet, where he achieved three scoring drives in four of his opportunities, and set up the 49ers' game-winning drive.

Next week plan

Following the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he anticipates the starters playing against the Los Angeles Chargers next week in a "dress rehearsal" outing, which likely means Brock Purdy will receive another series or two of preseason action.

After that, the reps will go to the backup quarterbacks, and the plan could be a similar one to Saturday's with the split between Lance and Sam Darnold.

However, I think the 49ers should divert all of those extra reps to Trey Lance. With two outings under his belt, as well as the 55 starts of tape he's already shown, Sam Darnold doesn't need more experience, even in the new offense.

Trey Lance does though, and he's clearly showing how the extra reps take a bad performance into a good one, even dating back to last week.

After the game, he himself shared how much he learns from every rep, and his continued development could be valuable in determining the backup quarterback battle, which likely boils down to which player has the better floor.

It likely doesn't happen, but the 49ers would be best served operating with Lance as the top quarterback in relief and allowing him to go through his process for the full three quarters afterward.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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