49ers Mailbag- Would Trey Lance have made a difference against Seattle?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo warms-up before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

With the 49ers dropping a tight contest against Seattle on Sunday and falling to 6-6 on the season, it was expected that this week’s mailbag questions would be lively. The readers didn’t disappoint.

As you could expect, the play of Jimmy Garoppolo was on the top of their minds.

David @110926Dave – So many things the Niners did wrong. With that said, would Trey Lance have made a difference? Let me get your honest opinion?

Some plays would have turned out different, but I do not think the result of this game changes with Trey Lance in at quarterback.

While Jimmy Garoppolo deserves some blame, especially for his two interceptions, this game was lost due to mistakes throughout the team. Here’s a list off the top of my head of what led to the loss:

>Special teams allow a 73yd Fake Punt TD after the defense forces a quick three and out to start the game.

>46 more yards in penalties than Seattle. More on this below.

>Terrible 2-minute defense. Jimmy Garoppolo went to the sideline at with a 23-14 lead and less than two minutes to go in the first half. Special teams allow the kickoff return to get out to the 35-yard line. From there the 49ers defense gifts Seattle 23 yards with two roughing the passer penalties and the Seahawks score a touchdown to go in down by only two.

>Garoppolo with two bad interceptions. His first throw was to the correct read, but he needed to wait a beat longer before making the throw to Trent Sherfield. On the second interception, Garoppolo was over aggressive and threw down the middle to George Kittle who was triple covered instead of hitting an open Elijah Mitchell on a checkdown.

>Gould missed an extra point.

>Benjamin fumbles opening kickoff of the second half. While the defense would bail Benjamin out when K’Waun Williams came up with an interception, this was a big part of why San Francisco started four of their five second half possessions inside their own 10-yard line.

>Compton was blown up by Carlos Dunlap on two key pass plays. The first play resulted in Jimmy Garoppolo being sacked in the endzone for a safety which tied the game at 23.

The next play was the 49ers final of the game. Jimmy Garoppolo delivered a pass to Trent Sherfield who was wide open at the goalline, but Compton had been driven backwards once again and Dunlap was able to knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage.

>Brandon Aiyuk’s drop on 3rd and 8 takes away 22yd gain. This play came on 3rd and 8 early in the fourth quarter. Instead of having the ball out near midfield, the 49ers are forced to punt the ball away and won’t get it back until nearly seven minutes of game time was chewed up by the Seahawks offense.

>Dontae Johnson personal foul in the fourth quarter allows Seattle to take nearly six more minutes off the clock. Instead of the 49ers defense getting off the field with a stop, Johnson is called for unnecessary roughness due to helmet-to-helmet contact on Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett. Although the defense would eventually force a fumble on the two-yard line, this penalty was very costly in terms of time and field position.

massimo @paratropina – Will the 49ers get anything for Garoppolo or do you think they will have to cut him?

I think it will be very difficult for San Francisco to get much of anything for Garoppolo in terms of draft picks unless it’s a conditional pick in 2023.

With a salary cap hit of nearly $25 million and some high-profile quarterbacks likely to be available this offseason the number of suitors will likely be limited.

Genuine Waruna @waruna – Was the coverage soft on the last 49ers drive? When Lance led a touchdown drive at the end of the Seattle game it was soft coverage, but Jimmy had a great drive?

Yes and no. While the Seattle defense was in zone for several plays on the final drive Sunday@, they also changed up their looks with a blitz and man coverage at times.

At the end of the first game between these two teams, Seattle sat in a soft zone coverage with Bobby Wagner lined up seven to eight yards off the ball for every snap. That was certainly not the case this time around.

Joe @joezinsf – Can we finally put to rest the tired cliché that Kyle Shanahan can use any running back and the 49ers can still dominate on the ground? This team needs elite speed (Mostert, Deebo) to make this offense go.

I think so. Elijah Mitchell is a nice back who should have a good career with San Francisco, but the 49ers need an explosive element to complement him in their run game. They lost that when they lost Raheem Mostert after only two carries in the season opener and found it again with Deebo Samuel a few weeks ago.

Without Samuel yesterday the 49ers run game was held to only 2.8 yards per rushing attempt and George Kittle showed he’s no Deebo Samuel when called upon for an end around.

Aether Art @aetherartvids – Can the 49ers win without Deebo Samuel?

They can, but to make that happen the 49ers need everyone to step their games up. As I said in this column last week, the explosive plays from Deebo Samuel masked some weaknesses, in particular along the offensive line.

The low yards per attempt in the running game is just one area. Without those big runs from Samuel the 49ers offense was forced to throw the ball more than they had since losing to Arizona. This played a role in the safety early in the second half, and the pass on the final play being batted down.

This article has 16 Comments

  1. Hi,

    concening the value of Tray Lance question. You have now only looked at the game how it went and who made the mistakes. But I also remember that you explained that 49ers win a game if they run the ball and they loose the game when they throw the ball. This game was quite passing-based. Here I would believe Trey could have brought more value as he would be another running threat himself.

    Br ovinator

  2. As Hammer expertly explains, this game was lost in many ways from lapses on many players parts. I don’t think replacing one single player (Jimmy for Trey, Elijah for Mostert or Deebo ) would have made any difference.

  3. Wow, great mailbag. I dont think Trey Lance would have made a huge difference considering he had not been playing the weeks prior. Seattle is not a hospital environment to start a rookie.

    1. This game was lost by our special teams and turnovers. Seattle constantly had a short field wheras we had 3 drives start from within our own 5. One of those resulted in a safety.

    2. Everyone talks about JG’s contract – rightfully so. We should also be talking about Gould’s. He is guaranteed 5M next year. What ??? Last week he missed a 40 yard FG which gave MN a chance to tie the game on the final drive. Sunday he missed a PAT. Had he made that , we would have had a chance to win the game outright at the end instead of OT.

    3. Compton is terrible. Is it weird that we have had so many former Skins and Falcons on our roster : Hoyer, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Compton, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, Tevin Coleman, Alex Mack, Mo Sanu …

    1. Niners were only in this game because Seahawks made just as many blunders. Niners have a low margin of error. If they’d made as many mistakes in the previous 3 wins as in this game they would have lost those too.

      1. Yeah, but in the first half we shut down their offense. What gave them the edge after the half was our poor ST play and turnovers. I guess also they figured out that Lenoir and Norman are not NFL caliber CBs.

    2. “Seattle is not a hospital environment…” Perhaps a Freudian slip? Some might say the 49ers roster is a hospital environment.

      1. Hospitable . But, Yes our injuries really caught up with use. Especially in the secondary.

  4. Oh yeah. This is not football related but very important. My wife coerced me to watch the Gucci movie this weekend and it was a 2.5 hour disaster. I am a huge Ridley Scott fan – Gladiator, BlackHawk, Blade Runner … I was thinking this was going to like Goodfellas . Nope. Avoid at all costs.

    1. Totally agree about House of Gucci. We had to watch it as spouse is on the SAG awards nominating committee. Horrible direction, comically bad performances (including the worst “Italian” accents I’ve ever heard in any movie), horrible makeup (WTF is that mask being worn by Jared Leto?). But will probably win major awards as studio is pushing it hard.

      1. I’m looking forward to Guillermo del Toro Nightmare Alley . Oh and of course the Matrix.

  5. I guess I’m dense or ill-informed. Probably both. But regarding Jimmy’s contract, why is it these salary cap horror stories never seem to come to fruition? Remember recently when the Rams were in “salary cap hell”? That didn’t stop them from their current player purchase spree. Remember last off season that we’d *never* be able to resign T. Williams or any of the starting secondary while keeping JG and after the new extension for Warner and others? How did that work out?

  6. The Seahawks game was truly ugly, and Jack Hammer has outlined reasons. I would add the following.

    The defense lacks adequate pressure on opposing quarterbacks; only Bosa has been effective. The defense cannot offset the weaknesses at cornerback; safeties remain absent in coverage. All of this comes from a lack of leadership from Ryans.

    The offensive problems are not limited to quarterback. The line failed to block adequately so running backs were largely ineffective. The glaring shortcoming at right tackle produces no stopping of pass rushers and no ability to run the ball to the right.

  7. Yes the Seahawks got away with a blatant PI on the 2nd to last play of the game. Yes, the Seahawks got away with a blatant hold on Omenihu on the TD pass. Yes both of those non-calls were inexcusable failures by the Refs on critical plays that could have directly impacted the outcome of the game. The 49ers really lost the game because their 2nd half drives consisted of:
    Turnover on Downs

    This game was lost by the entire team and coaching staff. The Punt Return alignment that allowed that Fake Punt TD was as bad as it gets in the coaching department. An alignment that doesn’t protect the edges is peewee league level football bad. I’m beginning to think Richard Hightower is bad at his job.

    And no, Trey Lance wouldn’t have made a difference in this game. Maybe he runs for a first down or he doesn’t throw the picks but he also doesn’t make the pass for the TD to Kittle in the endzone.

  8. I don’t believe that Trey would have made a big difference. But perhaps a small one.

    Just the specter of having his run ability on short yardage plays might have caused the seahawks to tweak their heavy front alignment enough to give us a marginal advantage.
    Petey Carroll used the same defense that he utilized against Harbaugh and Kaepernick –
    Stop the run, and force the QB to throw. Obviously, Garoppolo is a much better QB than CK, but Carroll’ game plan was enough to eek out the win.

    Lance could be a weapon if Shanahan is willing to bring him in on certain situations. As an acknowledged offensive genius, I don’t understand why he hasn’t been able to work Trey into the game plan.
    Let’s go Shanahan!

    1. First, I have to say I was not a big Kapernick fan. But remember when many were asking why Kyle would not consider him as even a backup since he was better than most other backups. Kyle told us then about how difficult it is to have two QBs that are so dissimilar system wise. You know, different preparation, yada, yada, yada. Well now apparently Kyle has re-thought that limitation because there is no doubt that Jimmy and Trey are arguably just as dissimilar. And to make matters worse, Kyle has even hinted that he is now doing different preparation (packages, ya know) for Jimmy and Trey. My question is this: Was he lying then or is he lying now” And my follow up question is: Does this additional preparation, which he previously disavowed, making his starting QB and the supporting players less effective overall? The jury is still out on whether Kyle is a good HC but he sure seems to have the political BS part down pat.

      1. He’s not going to criticize players on air so he wasn’t about to say Kaepernick was a lousy QB which is most likely why he didn’t want to sign him. As for Lance, I don’t think he really added anything when he as in but he probably doesn’t want to say that and he shouldn’t.

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