49ers Rewind; Too many runs for Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers (2-3) received a stellar effort from their defense only to see an inept offensive performance result in a 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers fell to 2-3 and will go into their bye on a three-game losing streak.

Let’s take a look back at some of the key plays from Sunday’s game.

1. Overutilizing Trey Lance in the run game.

Kyle Shanahan went away from his identity against Arizona. Facing a defense that came in allowing the third most yards per carry in the NFL, Shanahan took the game away from his running backs.

While he ended up calling a total of 24 running plays, Shanahan put the ball in the hand of Lance 12 times, leaving the other 12 to be split between Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk.

Shanahan is a proponent of creating what he calls 11-on-11 football, using the quarterback as the runner, due to the mismatches it can set up. The 49ers were unable to make this work on Sunday. Lance averaged 3.7 yards per attempt compared to 5.3 by the other four which also included a touchdown run from Samuel.

2. Trey Lance made some nice plays.

The 49ers second pass play of the game was a classic Kyle Shanahan shot play. Lance has Deebo Samuel running a wheel route up the left sideline and Travis Benjamin running a deep curl. At the top of his drop Lance has both receivers covered. He climbs the pocket which moves the linebacker and creates a throwing lane to Benjamin.

While this play results in a turnover, the way Lance keeps his eyes down field and attempts a throw to the open receiver instead of just taking off is impressive. Looking to pass instead of just taking off at the first hint of pressure should help speed up Lance’s development.

Lance actually has Deebo Samuel open early on the over route but doesn’t see it right away, instead pulling the ball down and climbing the pocket before making the throw for a 26-yard gain. As he did on the first play, Lance does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield while moving in the pocket.

Presnap the Cardinals show a seven-man pressure. Although two drop out after the snap, Lance does a terrific job of recognizing the defense and getting the ball out quickly with touch to his hot read, Kyle Juszczyk, for a gain of 18 yards. This is good recognition by the rookie quarterback.

This is easily one of the best throws from a 49ers quarterback so far in 2021. The cornerback covering Brandon Aiyuk falls off and is replaced by safety Budda Baker who is all over the inside of the receiver. Lance shows off his arm strength and accuracy to fit the ball into Aiyuk’s left side and the receiver makes an outstanding one-armed catch before breaking free to convert a second and long situation.

3. Trey Lance had some rough plays.

As should be expected with a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, Lance had some rough patches show up. Outside of the overthrow to Benjamin early on, there were a number of times in which Lance would hold onto the ball resulting in a holding penalty being called on an offensive lineman. This happened at least three times during the game, but we’ll start with these two examples because the play calls were similar.

Both of these plays are meant to be quick throws to the underneath receiver, basically a downfield screen. On both occasions Lance hangs onto the ball instead of hitting the open man. On the first play it is fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and on the second play the open receiver underneath is Deebo Samuel. These are about as simple as it gets which makes one wonder what Lance is seeing.

Lance gets locked onto Kyle Juszczyk who is running a Texas route out of the backfield and misses two open throws down the field, Ross Dwelley down the right seam or Deebo Samuel on the out. Due to Lance not getting the ball out on time, Trent Williams is forced to block Chandler Jones longer and this results in another holding call.

On the 49ers final possession, Lance has Brandon Aiyuk open on a deep crossing route but instead chooses to throw the deep fade to Deebo Samuel and it falls incomplete. Aiyuk has a step on the defensive back. One of the traits he showed in college was to not put the ball in harm’s way and pass up open throws at times as a result. This is the type of throw Lance needs to take when it presents itself.

One last observation from this game. Kyle Shanahan put a lot on a rookie who was making his first start. Not only did he put the ball in the hands of Trey Lance on 47 of the 59 snaps, there were a number of times in which the quarterback was left alone in the backfield. That’s not typical of the 49ers during Kyle Shanahan’s tenure.

For San Francisco’s offense to get back on track and to give Trey Lance the best chance to succeed, Kyle Shanahan needs to run mostly the same offense with Lance that he does with Jimmy Garoppolo, with a only a few designed quarterback runs thrown in.

This article has 38 Comments

  1. It’s not 11 on 11 football if the QB is lined up in an empty set. Of all of the strange, head-scratching plays that Kyle dialed up for his young QB on Sunday, the empty sets are the most disturbing. Honestly, this defies everything I know about Kyle Shanahan as a play caller. I almost didn’t believe what I was seeing on Sunday. No joke …. I even rubbed my eyes a few times and pinched myself at least twice, just to make sure I wasn’t experiencing some kind of bad dream or something.

    I challenge everyone on this blog to explain to me the logic of running Trey Lance out of those empty sets, vs the likes of JJ Watt, big Rashad Lawrence and the Cardinals dynamic Linebackers?

    I’m sick to my stomach because a little part of me suspects that Kyle set the kid up to make some kind of point. Maybe that’s over the top, but honestly, I can’t come up with a better explanation. Kyle loves to run his RB’s, in fact his game winning philosophy is all about giving his RB’s a certain number of carries in a given game. That’s why Kyle runs the football more than most coaches. And he’s talked in depth about the “numbers game”, and how a mobile QB can affect the running game. The whole idea is to use the read-option to freeze the backside defenders, which creates a numbers advantage for the offense. But that advantage doesn’t exist when you run the QB out of an empty set.

    I am really upset about this. There was a play where Trey took a huge hit on one of those runs, and the camera panned to his parents sitting in the stands, where his mother was almost beside herself, and then a few okays later, Kyle called another QB run right square into the teeth of the defense, and turned to my wife and said, I can’t watch this anymore, so I took a break from watching the game at that point, because I was really getting upset.

    1. Yah, it was the play in which Trey got rocked and lost his helmet. I said to my wife, I can’t believe what I am seeing, but I also thought to myself, well that’s the last one, Kyle isn’t going to keep calling these quarterback power runs, and putting Trey Lance at risk. And then …. a few plays later, after Trey had barely even caught his breath, Kyle called another one! That’s when I walked away for 10 or 15 minutes, because I was both angry, and little disturbed at that point! And frankly, I’m still angry and a little disturbed 3 days later.

    2. “But when he’s come in, we always want the threat of him running it, and there’s not much of a threat when you’re under center. I mean, there’s the threat of a quarterback sneak, but once you get in pistol, you get in shotgun, now they’ve got to think about it. Now, you can use all 11 guys, and there’s the threat of the zone-read, there’s the threat of options and stuff. So, whether you’re going to do it or now, it’s kind of irrelevant, but you want the defense to always have to honor it.” – Kyle Shanahan to Greg Papa before the Cardinals game.

      1. And this is the part I truly don’t understand. The actual plays designed for Lance to rush didn’t force the defense to honor anything. The most successful plays were the QB draws where Lance sets up like it’s a pass then he runs up the middle. That didn’t force the defense to honor anything except maybe the interior rushers to stay in their rush lanes. Most of the other rushes were Lance following a lead blocker into a hole. Again no pressure on any defensive player to honor their run fits. Usually, you want to force a backside DE or LB to stay home to contain and set an edge to prevent the QB from keeping the ball and running off the back side. By forcing backside players to stay home then hopefully that opens run lanes for the RB on the play side. Kyle only called 2 read options that forced the defense to honor a backside rush. I find it really weird that Kyle says he wants to force the defense to honor the zone read and then design and call plays that don’t do that at all. The disconnect from the explanation and the actual play strategy is baffling.

  2. The other thing I don’t understand, is why Kyle wasn’t using play-action with Trey Lance, when he was so good at play-action in college. We were told that one of the reasons Kyle gravitated towards Trey was because Trey ran a lot of the same concepts at North Dakota, that Kyle Shanahan has made a living at in the NFL.

    And here’s another thing. The element of deception we are so used to seeing from Kyle was almost nonexistent on Sunday, and I just can’t understand why. Again, none of the stuff Kyle called on Sunday was typical of a Kyle Shanahan offense.

    It really was as if Kyle was trying to make a point – trying to prove to somebody that Trey Lance wasn’t ready to play (unlike Mac Jones, cough, cough), so he made things as difficult as possible for his rookie QB. And BTW, before you guys claim that I am crazy, there are a lot of people who are questioning the exact same thing.

    And then the phantom knee injury? I went back and watched the way Trey was moving late in the game, and I watched him walk around after the game. I know this is not a scientific, medical evaluation, but I didn’t see anything that would indicate something like a sprained knee. Sprained knees usually don’t present themselves 8-10 hours after the injury occurs. It usually presents itself rather quickly, and starts to stiffen up once the athlete slows down, and cools down for a short period of time. Even a Grade 1 knee sprain, which is the least severe, usually shows at least a little bit of swelling within the first couple of hours after the injury occurs, because the sprain involves the stretching of at least 1 of the knee ligaments, but supposedly Trey never even realized he had injured his knee until he was in bed later on that night? Say what?

    This entire thing is so darn strange, it’s as if the 49ers have entered the Twilight Zone!

  3. Great tape review Jack.
    The question you overlooked is :Why?
    Why did KS make TL run?
    Is it because he doesn’t trust his throws? Afraid of Int, like on his first drive?
    Or is it KS ego, trying to be different and outsmart the opponent?
    (remember the SB when 99% was expecting a run and he went for a (missed) throw?)
    Does KS want to do the unexpected or does he not trust TL the way he does JG?
    That’s the question and will decide the season!

    1. Trey holds a lot of promise for the future but the future is not here yet. When you have a running QB who has not yet developed good pocket passing skills, then sure he’s going to get a lot of running plays. It seems to me that the same people who championed Trey because of his running ability are now complaining that he got too many running plays. Talk about twilight zone.

      1. Yes Jerry, there were a lot of people demanding to have TL start, because we traded up.
        “I know there’s a lot of people who believe just because he can run around and Garoppolo can’t, that that automatically makes him a better option,” Cosell shared. “But I think the whole point, and the reason coaches work 16, 17 hours a day, is they want the quarterback to execute the offense. And I think, at this point in time, Jimmy Garoppolo executes the offense better than Trey Lance. But the bottom line is Trey Lance has started one game, so this is not a knock on Trey Lance. This is just where he is right now.”

    2. “I’ll answer that this way: I think Kyle Shanahan and the staff knew that he wasn’t quite ready to do that, and that’s another reason they ran him so much,” Cosell said. “I think he made a couple of really good throws. One was dropped by [Mohamed] Sanu; it might have been his best throw of the day. He made a really good throw to [Brandon] Aiyuk; I think it might have been 3rd-and-25, and I think it was for 26 yards. But then he missed a few.
      Oops, the Wunderkind is not ready?
      Steve Young told KNBR’s “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks” on Wednesday. “That’s not something we can keep doing. Clearly, it was an effort to get him kind of in the mix. What is obvious to me is that [Lance] isn’t trusted. Right? He’s young, first game — and look when I say not trusted people are going to overreact. What rookie in his first start is trusted? What I’m saying is that I don’t want to put him in a spot where, I know for the fact that if I can get him on the run that’s something he is very comfortable with and maybe we can get away with some things, but I think the Cardinals just played it really well. It wasn’t like there were these big gashing runs. When the 11th guy out of the huddle, the quarterback, is running the ball, you hope you have the extra little blocker and the deception and not so many tough yards.

  4. Shanny ran Trey too much because he felt that was the best path to victory against the Cardinals. He ran Mitchell too few with the cognizant approach of managing his shoulder pain, and he ran the other Trey too few because he doesn’t enjoy the full trust of Bobby Turner. Lots of blame to go around starting with the head coach, but Trey can’t start until he can function in the offense from the pocket. Stick to the original plan, and everyone needs to play and coach better if they want to be a wild card team with a chance to make some real noise….

  5. Truly amazing stuff Jack. This is probably the best post I’ve seen on Lance’s first start. Very impressed.

    I hated Shanahan’s game plan in this one. Not only did Lance have the most rush plays called during the game, 10 of the 12 rushes were designed runs between the tackles where the QB has no chance to slide. Almost by design the QB is forced to take hits on those interior runs. Only 2 outside runs that I could see. No real misdirection. No bootlegs. As you said the Cards were giving up the 3rd most yards per carry in the NFL and the leading 49er RB only had 9 rushes. I’m not sure what weakness Shanahan was trying to exploit but there really isn’t any objective argument one could make that this was an effective game plan. I honestly think this loss was on coaching and not on the players.

    1. Thank you. As you may have guessed from everything I’ve written since the game, I was not a fan of the plan Shanahan put together. I thought it was one of the worst of his time in SF.

      1. Agree. I’m a huge Shanahan fan. I think he’s one of the best offensive minds in football but this game was his worst effort in my opinion. I am wondering if all the injuries are wearing on him to the point where he’s developed an attitude that the game plan/play design is irrelevant because the team is missing so many quality starters. It’s inexplicable to me how he chose to use the teams future franchise QB in this one. I seriously don’t understand it.

  6. Well, at least you made an attempt to explain away Kyle’s mind-blowingly stupid game plan, but it doesn’t really hold water, Razor, and I’ll tell you why:

    Firstly: Trey Lance is a terrific play action passer. His play-action passing might even be his strongest asset right now. It certainly was in college, in fact, his college play-action passer rating was absolutely off the charts, and we’ve been told that it’s bone of the reason Kyle gravitated towards Trey Lance during the pre-draft process.

    Secondly: If Kyle doesn’t trust him as a pocket passer, why did he call so many passes out of empty sets? Everyone knows that the hardest reads to make, and the toughest concepts to pass out of, are empty sets. First of all, the defense knows for certain that you aren’t handing the ball off. This allows the cornerbacks and safeties to play aggressive, tight coverage, and without a RB in pass protection, the QB has, in theory, the least amount of time to make his reads.

    Thirdly: Where were the zone-read concepts that Trey ran so much during training camp? If there is one thing Trey Sermon does well as a RB, it’s running zone-read concepts out of shotgun formation. It fits his natural running style. And I’ll be frank … if they don’t trust a 3rd round pick to carry the ball 10 times in any given game, especially when they really him to step up, we have a lot bigger problems than Sunday’s game on our hands. Besides, he also has another viable RB at his disposal. Big Jacques Patrick is a big, powerful RB who knows understands how to run Kyle’s outside zone running concepts, so why is he still not getting any carries, especially in short yardage situations? What was the purpose of signing him and carrying him on the active roster if you don’t trust him? He was certainly deemed good enough to poach off of another team’s PS, he’s been active on game days for the last 3 weeks, plus …. he passed the eye test VS the Seahawks, and apparently he’s good enough to make the 49ers practice squad ahead a number of other proven NFL RB’s.

    No matter how you you try to frame it, Razor, the way I see it ….

    You can put lipstick on a pig all day long, but at the end of the day, lipstick or no lipstick, it’s still just a pig.

    1. Yea, I don’t believe for one minute that Shanny didn’t draw up the game plan he thought gave the team it’s best chance for victory. My problems with Shanny in this last game I’ve pointed out to you numerous times on, Inspired49ersblogspot.com. A. His 4th down play calls. B. Not feeding Mitchell the ball more. C. No designed rollouts to get the ball downfield to Benjamin, which was why he was brought up from the practice squad.

      There’s no other coach I’d rather have than Shanny to groom Trey Lance. No one that I’m aware of said he doesn’t trust him as a pocket passer, rather he’s determined, and it’s quite obvious, that he’s not yet mastered that art. I’ll bet that’s why the plan was developed as it’s currently constructed.

      As for the trust factor by Bobby Turner in Trey Sermon, I would never question his judgement. He won’t just give it out. It must be earned. Your beef, or should I say “pork” sounds like it has more to do with Maybelline than real life football….

      1. Raozr, I know you have issues with Kyle’s game plan on Sunday. And the 4th down play calls, not feeding the ball to Mitchell (who was running exceptionally well on Sunday, BTW) and the lack of roll-outs, etc, but that doesn’t explain away a game plan that was clearly not designed to put his young QB in the best possible position to play well in his first NFL start. You say “there’s no other coach I’d rather have than Shanny to groom Trey Lance”, but in Trey Lance’s most important start of his young career so far, not only did Kyle not make an effort to make his young quarterback as comfortable as possible, he actually put together a game plan that made things more difficult than it ever needed to be on his impressionable you QB who was making his first NFL start. I don’t know how you can square this fact, with the notion that Kyle is still the best coach for the job? This should have been a layup for Kyle Shanahan. He didn’t even need to make a lot of changes to his playbook. In fact, if he had simply called the same kind of game that he has called for Jimmy Garoppolo over the years, he would have given the rookie a much better chance for success. That’s the reason so many well known, respected football analysts like Brian Baldinger, blasted Kyle Shanahan for the way he handled his most prized player on Sunday.

        And the thing is, these early games in a young quarterback’s career, are absolutely pivotal. We’ve seen the damage that can occur with these young QB’s if their OC and HC don’t do everything they can to set them up for success early in their careers. These are the most impressionable starts. It’s the same principal as raising a child. Their early years are the most impressionable. You would send your two year old toddler to the shopping mall on their own would you? Of course not. And if a parent did, you wouldn’t continue to believe that parent is capable of raising that child properly, would you? So why are you excusing Kyle? Why are you so sure, after Sunday, that Kyle is right man for the job? Why would you even assume it’s a job he’s interested in doing?

        If you think about. Kyle has never properly developed a young QB as a HC.

        Nick Mullens? Strike One!
        CJ Beathard? Strike Two!

        Jimmy Garoppolo? He’s the same QB now, that he was when the 49ers acquired him in 2017, or maybe he’s even worse, at least he is statistically. So that’s Strike Three! Three strikes and your out, as far as I am concerned. And just like his young quarterbacks, Kyle Shanahan appears to be regressing! His record as a HC is 31-38, and he’s been outcoached consistently over the last 16 months, not just by the opposing HC’s, but also by his own DC!

        When you add all of this stuff up, it’s hard to look at Kyle Shanahan these days, and say he’s one of the better offensive play callers in the league, let alone head coach! You are what your over all record says you are as a head coach. And in year five, there are no valid excuses for such a lack of discipline, and a lack of vision as a play caller. I’m done believing Kyle Shanahan is the right man for this job, moving forward. The fact that Kyle Shanahan can’t seem to figure out the quarterback position, in the golden age of high flying passing offenses, is not something I am willing to hang my hat on anymore. And after Sunday’s absolute debacle of a game plan from Kyle Shanahan, seemingly not wanting to be bothered to protect one of the youngest, and least experienced starting QB’s of my lifetime, I have lost all confidence in Kyle Shanahan’s ability to turn this team around, and my only hope now is that he doesn’t ruin Trey Lance in the process, before Jed York replaces him, because the way things are going right now, I think that day is coming sooner, rather than later!

        1. BTW Razor, It’s not just fans like me that Kyle is losing. Kyle Shanahan is starting to lose his locker room!

          Two years ago, this was the tightest locker room in the league. Nobody was questioning Kyle Shanahan’s leadership, and his players were always prepared to run through brick walls for their head coach. According to multiple sources, and people I trust, there is an entirely different vibe this year, and that change in vibe started in the leadup to the draft. The way in which Kyle has talked openly about his efforts to replace Jimmy Garoppolo, as far back as the 2020 offseason, hasn’t been well received with the locker room, especially among the 49ers’ veterans. And the charade we all witnessed in the leadup to the draft, after the 49ers traded away two additional year’s worth of 1st round draft picks, as well as a 3rd rounder, to move all the way up to #3, so that they could draft Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement, has made things worse. But the first big shockwave hit in the second half of the Detroit Lions’ game, and even though the 49ers managed to squeak by their first two games, things did not start off this season the way in which the team expected they would. But these last few games, in the leadup to their bye week, have caused an earthquake among the players. But there’s an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale building up pressure on the fault lines of the 49ers locker room, and I have a strong feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better, so all I can say is buckle up, the big one is coming!

          1. Let me ask you this one simple question, Razor, because this will give me a much better idea of your current mindset.

            Here’s the question: With all of the injuries and question marks on this 49ERS team, do you think this team is closer to being a Super Bowl contender this year, or a borderline playoff team (wildcard)?

            1. For one thing …… if you say this was at least supposed to be a team with Super Bowl aspirations, I’d love to know the logic in redshirting their first 4 picks in this year’s draft class, when the margins in the NFL are as thin as they are. And BTW, go look up how all of the current top teams used their day 1 and day 2 draft picks this year, and how much those picks are currently contributing to their current success.

              And then maybe the next you can explain to me is the logic in the way they are using Brandon Aiyuk so far this season.

            2. I’d venture a guess as to finishing with a 10-7 record and a wild card team.

              Aiyuk’s got to figure it out. He’s getting plenty of snaps.

              It’s rare for a rookie to come in and be trusted right away. That’s why 6th rounder Mitchel is starting, because he’s a special back.

              1. 10-7? So you think this team has a strong chance of going 8-4 thru their remaining 12 games?

                This, in spite of the fact that they play in the toughest division, their QB1 is an injury waiting to happen, and their QB2 is extremely inexperienced, and has been mostly relegated to running the scout team in practice?

                I’m not going to accuse you of whistling past the graveyard, Razor, but I have a strong feeling that your brain is telling you one thing, while your heart is telling you something else entirely.

                There is certainly something to admire about a fan who has such conviction in a head coach who has a 31-38 record, and has 1 winning season under his belt despite being in his 5th season. At the same time, I’m not sure unflinching confidence from a fan base, is such a good thing either, in the face of an undisciplined offense that seems to be regressing on a weekly basis, and a head coach who seems unwilling to course-correct.

                I hate to say it, Razor, because I appreciate your knowledge as a football fan, but I don’t think that blind faith in a HC, despite the growing sense of dread that comes along with a football team on the heals of a 3 game losing streak, and consistently shows up on Sundays looking unorganized and unprepared, is necessarily a good thing either.

                I am all about accountability. I was always taught that it was better to face adversity head on, than to turn a blind eye, because it’s not the adversity itself, rather it’s how one deals with that adversity that determines the outcome, and defines one’s character.

              2. I’ll whistle while Shanny works while you fly the white flag after 5 games in, and a 2-3 record with 12 games left to go….

              3. OK Razor, like I say, I am not questioning your football knowledge, just so we’re clear, but I am having a hard time seeing what it is that gives you such confidence in a turn around. In fact, I am hard pressed to understand what you’ve seen over the last 4 plus years that makes you believe Kyle is the right head coach for developing Trey Lance. Like I’ve said, I challenge everyone, including yourself, to show me the evidence that Kyle Shanahan knows how to develop young quarterbacks, because I don’t see any evidence that Kyle even understands how to evaluate the QB position, and I’ve actually given concrete examples of his failure in this area.


                I know you know your stuff, Razor, but I also know that it can sometime be hard for devoted fans to acknowledge the truth, when that truth is potentially depressing, or stress inducing. As humans, we have a built in defense mechanism that helps us deal with trauma, and that’s a good thing unless it leads to denial, because denial can be a road block for dealing with the truth.

              4. FANSIDED – 3/5/2021:

                C.J. Beathard highlights all kinds of ‘what if?’ questions for 49ers. Rumor has it Beathard was the only quarterback head coach Kyle Shanahan wanted in the 2017 draft. Shanahan’s plan, of course, was to wait it out that year with Beathard and veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, then grabbing now-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency the following offseason.

                Except the 2017 trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo changed all that.

                Hoyer’s early flameouts in 2017 prompted Beathard to plug the gap between the two others, and it was painfully clear Beathard wasn’t anywhere close to doing so. The dearth of offensive talent San Francisco had in its first rebuild year under Shanahan was apparent, and Beathard was proverbially “tossed into the flame” far too soon.

                And those issues, such as poor pocket presence and a lack of consistent accuracy, continued to dog Beathard in each one of his seasons where he saw the field. While quarterback wins is generally a shortsighted stat, Beathard’s 2 wins over 12 starts say pretty much everything one needs to know.

                Beathard’s toughness on the field, even if it largely resulted from his own lack of pocket awareness, will never overcome the fact he, not quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, was the first quarterback the Shanahan regime selected in the NFL Draft. Along with now-Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Solomon Thomas, Beathard will remain a painful reminder why the bulk of the 49ers’ 2017 draft class ended up flaming out aside from, perhaps, nose tackle D.J. Jones and Beathard’s former teammate at Iowa, All-Pro tight end George Kittle.

                And in the wake of all the quarterbacking questions the Niners have faced since, Beathard likely won’t be looked up favorably for his time in San Francisco anytime soon.

              5. Remember this one, Razor?

                C.W. NEVIUS – 12/14/2020:

                Asked to assess Mullens’ performance in Sunday’s 23-15 loss to Washington, former 49er QB Jeff Garcia said he was “very sporadic, late on throws, not very accurate.” That’s a trifecta of bad quarterbacking. But what are you going to do? If anything third stringer C. J. Beathard hangs onto the ball longer. Jimmy Garopollo is still high ankle sprained, presumably returning for the last two games.

                But this was definitely the nadir for Mullens. I have a recurring vision of him sprinting frantically down the field, hoping to catch the defender who had just taken the ball from him. No such luck. His fumble was returned 47 yards to the end zone and his long, looping throw to the sideline was collected by a waiting Kamren Curl and returned for a 76-yard TD. Coach Kyle Shanahan called the interception return and the 17 points given up by his offense a “borderline backbreaker.” And if that was only “borderline,” I think we’d all hate to see a genuine backbreaker. The really tough part was both turnovers were the kind of preventable mistakes that Mullens has clearly been drilled on. The fumble came with him holding the ball in one hand in traffic, a recipe for a swatted turnover. And kudos for going to alternate receiver choices, but that pick personified the Mullens experience. It was the end of the third quarter, the game was in reach, 16-7, and he had the team moving. He had just converted a third-and-11. They were inside the Washington 25, it was second-and-two. Mullens was flushed out of the pocket, spotted Kyle Juszczyk as his outlet and tried a long throw to the sideline while on the move. Curl was standing five yards up the field, waiting and watching Mullens. It is true that Juszczyk turned upfield, but Curl broke on the ball immediately.

                Again, it’s second down. You’re on the edge of the red zone. There is nothing there. Throw it away.

                Afterward, for the first time, Mullens looked shell-shocked (at least to someone watching on a screen.) He must have said, “I have to take care of the ball” five times. What you have to wonder is if he has lost the trust of the team. Have the players given up on him?

                This is the UFDA quarterback whom Kyle Shanahan evaluated as good enough, not just to earn a roster spot, but to be Garoppolo’s primary backup for FOUR full years!

              6. The thing I find funniest about your whining over the game plan is that during preseason, when Shanahan had Lance practice playing from the pocket, you bit$hed and moaned about how Shanahan wasn’t setting him up for success by letting him use his running threat. In season, in his first start, Shanahan literally installed a game plan based around using Lance’s athletic ability… and you bit$h and moan about it. Now I agree the game plan was pretty ordinary and didn’t like various elements of it, but the irony in your complaints is pretty darn funny.

                Basically, unless and until Lance is carving up defenses, in your eyes Shanahan is failing and holding Lance back. It certainly isn’t anything to do with Lance and where he is at development wise!

              7. Well apparently this blog wont let me answer your question Scooter, so I’ll do it on Inspired 49ers

  7. Bravo. Balanced and poignant analysis of Trey’s performance. This is so difficult to find amongst Niners’ beat writers. While grant is the necessary antagonist (like Tim K during the baalke era), and Lombardi taking the mantle at Team PR mouthpiece, the others have no identity, and only engage in consultant speak, using a lot of words to say nothing. Thanks for the unbiased perspective.

  8. Thanks Jack! Watched your vid with Grant going over all of the offensive calls and I went from that was a bad game plan to WTF was Kyle thinking?!
    I’m actually angrier now that Kyle risked Lance getting hurt way too many times. Kyle has been around football pretty much his whole life and for him to call that many QB power runs was just inexcusable. Most people would lose their job for that kind of work.

  9. Grant, didn’t see you shouting from the rooftop to fireNolan Tomsula or demote OC Jeff Hosler, who set NFL offensive ineptitude records by, and read closely: not competing a pass for an entire first half; going a whole game With negative passing yards; punting on 4th and inches with 2:38 sec left in the game; never saving his timeouts past the 3rd Quarter; running up the gut—2 yds and a cloud of dust offense that apparently Bo Schembeckler, Woody Hayes and you applaud, since you said nothing because they did not offend you in press conferences….Yeah, Grant, that’s what this is about. Hosler never offended you, Shanny did, so you w
    want him. fired….Step up, Grant, you can’t really envision the York family lucking into 2 coaches like (Harbs/Shanny) in the next 21 years again. We’ll both be dust by then.

      1. I can understand Jack being associated with Grant. I’m sure there is a loyalty factor there but at some point he’ll realize he doesn’t need him and probably hurts his credibility.

    1. I can’t believe Grant is still in the business. He’s wrong on almost everything. He is simply a click bait guy. I can understand some fans wanting to get rid of Shanahan. That’s standard practice for less knowledgeable fans who get upset but a paid reporter? I still don’t believe he will survive in this line of work.

    2. To this day:

      Inside the 49ers | San Francisco 49ers news, discussion & opinions from Grant Cohn

      Come on Jack! Have you any pull with the webmaster?

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