The performance by Trey Lance in his first career home start over the weekend was reminiscent of the one made by Colin Kaepernick.
On Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, Trey Lance completed 16 of 23 attempts for 249 yds., two touchdowns, one interception and a quarterback rating of 116.0.
Colin Kaepernick made his first 49ers home start on Nov. 9, 2012, against the Chicago Bears. On that night Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 attempts for 243 yards, two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 133.1.
In their first home starts both quarterbacks were able to display the ability to make big plays through the air that their predecessors either couldn’t make or weren’t willing to try.
Kaepernick was on the money right from the start, connecting with tight end Vernon Davis on a deep throw down the left sideline on the first possession of the game. The next time San Francisco had the ball, Kaepernick hit Kyle Williams deep down the right sideline.
The aerial fireworks from Kaepernick would continue after halftime, as he would find Mario Manningham for 37 yards on his second throw of the half before finding Michael Crabtree in the endzone to put the 49ers up 27-0.
It took Lance a few series to get himself comfortable. That began to change in final moments of the first half.
Taking possession with only 38 seconds left to play before halftime Lance would get the 49ers offense rolling, finding Deebo Samuel running a quick slant on the right side for a gain of 17. Two plays later Lance made his best throw of the first half, seeing an opening in the Texans zone coverage and trusting Brandon Aiyuk to make the adjustment. The second year wideout did just that and the 27-yard gain set San Francisco up in field goal range leading to their first offensive points of the game.
Lance was just getting started.
On the opening possession of the second half for San Francisco, the rookie thread a pass between Texan defenders over the middle to Brandon Aiyuk for a gain of 43 yards. San Francisco was unable to score, a sign of things to come.
On the first play of the next possession, Lance unleashed a deep throw down the middle to Aiyuk once again. This time, the Texans secondary interfered with Aiyuk, giving San Francisco a gain of 37 yards.
Later, Lance took a deep shot once again, this timing hitting Samuel for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Samuel was running the same deep route as Aiyuk earlier and the rookie quarterback pulled the trigger on the deep route both times, something Garoppolo has failed to try all season when that play has been called.
One last piece that ties this all together, Lovie Smith. Smith was the head coach for the Chicago Bears during Kaepernick’s first start. On Sunday he was the defensive coordinator for Houston.
Defense stout once again
The 49ers defense played another strong game on Sunday, limiting Houston to only seven points.
Over the second half of the season San Francisco’s defense has allowed more than 23 points in a game only once, the outlier being the 26 points scored by Minnesota in week 12.
This strong stretch of games from the defense started with allowing only 10 points to the Los Angeles Rams in an upset victory in week 10.
The 49ers will need another strong performance if they are going to reach the playoffs, and reinforcements could be on the way. During his Monday conference call with Bay Area media, Kyle Shanahan said he expected cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and linebacker Dre Greenlaw could have a chance to return from injury and play against Los Angeles.
Rest for the Rams?
Don’t expect Los Angeles to rest its starters or relax this week. While home field advantage is out of reach for the Rams, the NFC West title, and a home game for the first round of the playoffs is still up for grabs.
While the 49ers are in control of their own destiny for a playoff berth, the same is true for Los Angeles and their division title hopes. A win on Sunday would secure the NFC West crown for Los Angeles and may also send San Francisco home for the postseason depending on the outcome of the game between New Orleans and Atlanta.
This is going to be a wild week as the four members of the old NFC West battle it out with playoff implications.
Trent Williams suffered a sprained elbow against Houston and is listed as day-to-day.
Marcell Harris is dealing with a stinger from yesterday. He will continue to be monitored.
Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson, K’waun Williams, and Raheem Mostert have been placed on the reserve/Covid-19 list. As was the case last week when punter Mitch Wishnowsky was placed on the list, Johnson and Williams still have a chance to play on Sunday.