49ers Mailbag: Is this Trey’s time?

In the wake of the 49ers 20-17 loss to Tennessee on Thursday night, the Faithful came strong with questions this week.

Since I opened the mailbag yesterday morning, a lot has changed around the 49ers current situation.

The most notable change is the announcement that Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a UCL tear along with a fracture in his right thumb. San Francisco has yet to rule Garoppolo out for Sunday’s contest against Houston, but it seems like only a matter of time before that announcement is made.

The other notable development for San Francisco was the New Orleans Saints loss to Miami on Monday night.

The loss by New Orleans puts San Francisco back into control of its own playoff destiny. The easiest route for San Francisco is to win their remaining games against Houston and the Los Angeles Rams. In addition, San Francisco can clinch a playoff berth this weekend with a victory over Houston and a Saints loss at home to the Carolina Panthers. Carolina won their first matchup back in week two, 26-7.

Now on to the mailbag.

@Ovinator – When is the right time to switch from Jimmy to Trey?

Given the injury he sustained to his right thumb on Thursday night, it appears the time will come on Sunday against Houston.

After making his first NFL start against a very tough Arizona Cardinals defense, getting the start against Houston at Levi’s Stadium would appear to be the optimal spot for Lance.

While the Texans defense is not good, allowing the fifth highest net yards gained per pass attempt and sixth highest yards per rush attempt in the NFL, they will come into Sunday tied for the fifth most interceptions in the NFL with 16.

Lance was very good about protecting the ball in college, throwing only one interception during his time and North Dakota State before having one on the first drive in his initial NFL start. It will be paramount for Lance to protect the ball on Sunday for San Francisco to win.

Matt Merritt, @midcone26 – Many point to the Titans game as the biggest loss of the season But I see the Az loss as bigger. A back up QB. No RB. No WR. Which game was the biggest reason SF doesn’t make the playoffs? No one really expected SF to win on a short week. Titans loss was not surprising.

While that second loss to Arizona was tough to swallow, I believe the the biggest losses of the season were to Seattle.

The Seahawks have won only five games this season, and two of them came against San Francisco in games the 49ers blew due to special teams errors, turnovers, and defensive lapses in key moments.

I agree the loss to Tennessee was not surprising.

When the NFL schedule came out many looked at the Tennessee game as a scheduled loss due to the strength of the opponent, and travel involved for such a short turnaround.

The recent struggles for Tennessee caused many to miss the mismatches between the two teams and we saw them play out on Thursday night. Tennessee has a very good defense and an explosive offense with A.J. Brown on the field.

Despite all of this, San Francisco was able to battle throughout and could have come out with a victory if not for a few bad throws by Jimmy Garoppolo and big conversions by Tennessee in the second half.

@SilenceCourant – What is the objective evaluation of Ambry Thomas? Overall performance in last game and trajectory of improvement, if any.

Thomas has shown improvement in his play. Against Tennessee, Thomas was targeted five times and finished with two pass break ups and two receptions allowed for 46 yards. Unfortunately for Thomas and the 49ers, 42 of those yards allowed Tennessee to convert a third and 23 on a drive that would end with Tennessee taking a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Expect the rookie to continue starting opposite Josh Norman until Emmanuel Moseley can return from injury. Kyle Shanahan told us yesterday the team is hopeful to have Moseley back for the final game against Los Angeles. 

Al’s Pa, @zackiejoe – Why is Kyle not manufacturing more touches for Brandon Aiyuk? No bubble screens, no jet sweeps, etc. Is this all because Shanahan put him the doghouse in August? Also, who is responsible for Jauan Jennings inexplicably getting more targets and touches the past few games than Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle or Jimmy?

I think the reason we don’t see a lot of screens and jet sweeps for Brandon Aiyuk is he is not very good with on those type of plays.

Aiyuk has arguably the best hands among 49ers receivers and is very good at the run after catch, however screens and jet sweeps are a different beast.

On these plays there is often more congestion and the need to set up and read blocks. Other than the one highlight reel play against Philadelphia in 2020, Aiyuk has not shown the ability to make the most of these plays.

With regards to Jauan Jennings getting more targets than Brandon Aiyuk the past few games, if we must put it on one person, I will say that is more on I Kyle Shanahan than Jimmy Garoppolo.

The threat of Aiyuk coupled with Deebo Samuel being used more in a running back role has allowed defenses to put more emphasis on taking Aiyuk away. This in turn makes it easier for Jennings to get free and the targets that follow.

@CBlock2382 – Why do we not design deep pass plays for players like Aiyuk and Deebo?

There are deep routes built into several plays. We don’t see many deep throws for Aiyuk or Samuel for two reasons; Jimmy Garoppolo struggles to hit these shots and the 49ers offensive line often struggles to hold up long enough to allow the deeper routes to develop.

This may change with Trey Lance taking over at quarterback. Throughout training camp, Lance showed a propensity to push the ball down the field more often than his predecessor, hitting a number of deep shots on a regular basis.

This article has 27 Comments

  1. It’ll come down to the last game with the Rams IMO. Win next week and that Rams game, in. Lose either of those, probably out. How likely will the Rams be playing hard for 1st seed, currently held by the Packers? All of the division leaders are within a game of each other and over the next two weeks any could claim that important bye. Week 18, the other division leaders play the early game so Rams will know the ramifications by kickoff. But who knows, Rams and Cards could be tied going into week 18. What a crazy end of season.

    1. Ya the tie breaker thing is annoying. The divisional record is dumb because the NFC West combined record is better than NFC East and NFC South teams. I don’t think the Saints will win out based on their QB situation.

      Wouldn’t be surprised to see PHI lose on the road to Washington this week.

  2. After the first Rams game there was a meme going around showing Kyle Shanahn as Sean McVays daddy. If Kyle is Mcvays daddy then surely Pete Carroll is Kyles daddy. It’s infuriating. How in the world do you give up a 73 yard fake punt TD. Seahawks had so little respect for 49er special teams they ran a fake punt on 4th & 6 from their own 27 yard line in the first qtr. Just awful.

  3. RIP John Madden 🙁🙁🙁

    Yeah, I was a Raiders fan in the Madden years, the “Unmade Bed”. Who was cooler than Snake Stabler?

    1. I’ll never forget the look of absolute dejection on Madden’ face when the ref’s called a TD on the “Immaculate Reception.” One of the most iconic plays in the history of the game. And one that still stings raider fans to this day.
      RIP Coach

  4. I know many are jumping on the Trey bandwagon to start Sunday but it’s not clear to me what Jimmy’s injury really is. Kyle called it a sprain but others appear to be speculating that’s it’s more serious. I’ll guess we’ll know probably tomorrow but the way I read things, it’s not a certainty.

    1. You can most definitely take what Kyle says with a grain of salt. There are people conspiring why saying that Jimmy’s Agent leaked the injury. I think that Kyle does not want to give the Texans or Rams any advantage when they play us. Reporters are doing their due diligence and finding out what the specifics of the injury are. That shouldn’t come as surprise considering it’s Rapsheet and Schefter.

    2. I don’t think Kyle is bullshifting much at all. I think there’s a real possibility right now that Jimmy might be able to go. Honestly I’m not sure Shanny knows the extent of the injury yet, and is waiting to find out like everyone else.

      Eventually my gut says Lance will start, mainly because any time Shanny has stated there’s a possibility someone might play it seemingly ends up being way worse than stated. That’s just been our luck with the injury bug.

  5. Starting Trey Lance is an eventuality whether JG is hurt or not. Watching Shanahan wince out of frustration on the sidelines after a missed pass to Aiyuk by Garoppolo is a sad reminder that Shanahan’ patience with Jimmy G, has bottomed out.

    Of all teams to start against, Houston may be taylor made for Lance. This game might just be the one that propels Trey to better things in the near future.

    1. Yes, I’m pretty sure we could beat Houston with Lance starting but if we do it’ll be because Jimmy is injured. I’m sure every coach winces when the QB misses a throw but Jimmy misses fewer throws than most according to the stats.

  6. If you guys haven’t figured out that Kyle is, in fact, full of sh_t, I feel sorry for you.

    BTW, Al and Zane are right, these 49ers are a circus, in part, due to the way Kyle and John have handled things. In fact, there is a certain dysfunction that has permeated the 49ers decision making going back to last February, and when I get time I will give you guys a detailed timeline.

    But now it’s Trey time. Everything now falls on the shoulders of our rookie QB, who has less than 7 full QTR’s of NFL regular season experience under his belt!

    Talk about IRONY!

    1. And BTW, my next prediction is even more dire.

      I have a strong feeling that Kyle is going to ruin Trey Lance, because Kyle is far too rigid, and set in his ways at this stage of his career, to have success with a QB like Lance. I mean, you all saw the way Kyle used Trey in his first start, he nearly got him killed!

      I sure hope I’m wrong about this one, but my gut intuition is rarely wrong!!

      1. Oh good.. More stupid stuff. Have you ever considered that the way you speak about Kyle, John and Jimmy is the way most bloggers on this site feel about you? Maybe you didn’t realize it but his blog is for 49er fans. Not haters.

        1. This is …. surreal!

          It’s been reported that, despite having a Grade 3 ligament sprain on his right hand (his throwing hand), Jimmy may play ahead of Trey Lance in Sunday’s extremely important game vs a lousy Texans team.

          SportMed – GRADE 3 (severe): A complete tear of the ligament resulting in severe pain, extensive bleeding, and swelling. The athlete is usually unable to bear weight on the limb. There may be a feeling of complete dislocation, even though that may not have happened.

          Is this some kind of sick joke on Kyle Shanahan’s part? Is Kyle punking the Faithful yet again, because if this doesn’t raise red flags in regards to Trey Lance’s development, I don’t what else would!

          1. Kyle Shanahan is willing to risk the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 years, for what …. to make some kind of point?

            Something just isn’t adding up with this guy, and it’s no wonder he has a 37-42 W-L record as a Head Coach! It’s clearly time for Jed York to start exploring trade options for his HC during the offseason!

            1. Even David Lombardi is starting to wonder what the heck is going on inside the 49ers facility … for instance, what is or isn’t the actual truth! I guess us, as fans, we don’t deserve any straight answers from our HC? SMH!

              BTW, if Jimmy plays on Sunday, and the 49ers lose, Kyle might want to try and catch the earliest flight out of town that he can find!

              1. And BTW, don’t take my word for it. You guys can look up what a UC Ligament is for yourselves, and how a complete tear (Grade 3 Sprain), would affect a QB. The idea that he might play over Lance is absolutely LAUGHABLE at this stage, and if he does, something is seriously wrong with Kyle!

                And also BTW, Kyle knew Jimmy had hurt his right thumb in the first half of Thursday Night’s game, but for some strange reason, decided to stick with his injured QB …. how did that work out? SMH!

              2. I am with you on stubborn Kshan – it is really hard for him to question himself because of his previous success……

              3. “for instance, what is or isn’t the actual truth.”

                The truth is that the 49ers are still in the playoff picture. What happens in the front office and behind the scenes does not matter to me. What matters to me is winning football games. If the team makes it to the post-season then Shanahan has done his job.

                Sure, there will be plenty of questions and conversations to bounce around in the off-season. But, at the moment, it’s about getting to the playoffs. And while I have some concerns about JG’ bad habits at QB, there’s still the likelihood that we could win without having to depend totally on Jimmy G.

  7. The Niners have signed a 30 year old QB to the practice squad who has only played briefly in 2 games over the past 8 years. Strange to say the least.

    1. Undrafted QB – TYLER BRAY:

      1/6, 18 YDS, 40.9 Passer Rating, over the course of this “mantis-like” (6’6″ 215 lbs) and statuesque quarterback’s illustrious 8+ year NFL career!

      SUDFELD & BRAY, LOL … Gotta love the way Kyle handles his QB position!

      1. Like Jason A. says “as a Niners’ fan, if you aren’t laughing and Kyle right now, you need to be crying!”

        The only thing we know about the 49ers on this chilly, 12/29/2021 afternoon, is that we don’t know anything about this football team at this stage! We don’t know if this is a playoff team offensively, defensively, and in fact … we don’t even know who the quarterback is for this dang football team moving forward. It’s really becoming an embarrassment at this point!

        Kyle’s attempt at gaining every ounce of competitive advantage against the 4-11 HOUSTON TEXANS (and their 32nd ranked offense, and 30th ranked defense), is coming across as DESPERATE at this stage, but maybe, just maybe, Kyle should be desperate at this stage!

        One thing we can absolutely assume at this point, is that Kyle has absolutely ZERO confidence in his first round pick – QB Trey Lance!


  8. San Francisco clinches playoff berth with:

    SF win + NO loss or tie OR
    SF tie + MIN loss or tie + NO loss + ATL loss or tie

    1. NO Is favored to win both their last 2 games so we’ll likely need to win both of our last 2 games. It’ll be a tough task against the Rams regardless of the recent past.

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