Kyle Shanahan has kept the decision of who will start at quarterback for the 49ers on Sunday against Los Angeles in the season finale close to the vest.
On December 27, Shanahan was asked why Trey Lance had not been made available to the media since his start against Arizona in early October.
“I just try to do things that I feel like is fair and the way that you guys normally would do stuff and the way we would normally do stuff,” said Shanahan.
“And when you guys are requesting him a bunch, I just ask how many times does the number two quarterback talk to the media during the week, and I was told none. So, then I just said, ‘well, just keep it that way.’
This makes it a bit interesting that Lance was the only player to speak with Bay Area media on Friday. Did Shanahan tip his hand?
Here is what Lance had to say Friday afternoon:
What was this week like for you in terms of how reps were divvied up, maybe compared to last week when you were getting all the reps and how did you get through it?
“Yeah, obviously I didn’t get them all. Jimmy’s [Garoppolo] back is limited this week. So it was good for me, obviously, to still be able to get some reps and at the same time work through it with Jimmy. It was unique a little bit with us being able to talk through reps that we both get. I think [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] did a great job for me, personally, just being able to prepare still this week and still being able to get some reps, not knowing, obviously, what’s going to happen with Jimmy on Sunday.”
Kyle said that your week was better than last week. So, in what ways did you see progress with yourself out there on the practice field?
“I just think throughout the season, every single rep that I get, I get better. I learn so much from every rep, whether it’s just practice or a game. And like I said, being able to have Jimmy out there and being able to be limited, throwing some this week, I think helped me a lot also.”
How do you feel your preparation has changed over the last couple of weeks as you prepare to take more and more reps and potentially play on Sunday?
“Honestly, the only thing that’s changed is just me getting reps in practice, for me. Obviously, it’s my job to prepare and be as ready as I possibly can every single week. So for me, mentally and from a preparation standpoint, it really hasn’t changed.”
When you had a chance to go back and watch what you did last Sunday. What were some of your takeaways? What did you like, what did you did not like from that game?
“I think really kind of what I said after the game held true. Some good, some bad, but definitely learned a lot from every single rep.”
What are some of the tips that you’ve been given about avoiding the Rams defensive front of Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald and others?
“Obviously, there are some guys on that D-Line that are going to make their plays, but protecting the football is number one.”
We talked to TE George Kittle and to WR Deebo Samuel yesterday, and both of them said that they couldn’t see any differences in Garoppolo passes. Obviously, he didn’t take all the passes, but from what you saw, would you be able to tell that he is dealing with a thumb injury?
“He has a wrap on his hand, I’m sure you guys saw. But I know that soreness, I’ve never had the injury, but I know how tough Jimmy is. I know that it hurts when he throws, so I know he is going to do everything he can to play on Sunday. And I know he’s a tough dude, so whatever he can do, he will.”
I don’t know how much nerves you’ve had in your previous starts, but when have a game kind of this magnitude with these kinds of stakes, just where’s your mind right now as you look forward to potentially playing in it?
“Yeah, the stakes were the same last week in my head and honestly in Arizona. It’s really not like I try any harder or prepare harder or better just because this could be it. It’s win or go home, but it really was the same exact stakes last week. So nothing really changes.”
Because you’re in this unique situation now of having split the reps this week with Jimmy, do you feel that if you go back to your number two job against the Rams, that you’ll be in a better position to maybe serve as a resource for him and have some nice conversations between series?
“Yeah, I’m sure the reps will help. Really preparation from that standpoint, nothing really changes. I see the same pictures that Jimmy does, we’re in the same meetings, we’re good friends, so we talk a lot. So from that standpoint, on the sidelines from game to game, it’s kind of just us sharing what we see. And obviously, [quarterback’s coach] Rich [Scangarello] on the sideline and Nate Sudfeld are huge helps also.”
Kyle was asked yesterday or a couple of days ago about how supportive George Kittle has been and how he tries to avoid his hits after a good play. Have you tried to avoid him? And then also, how much has it been a help for you to have his support?
“Yeah, George is a high-energy dude. As everyone knows, he’s been big bro to me for sure. One of my big bros since the first day I stepped in this locker room. So I’m super thankful for him, the energy he brings. And yeah, after big plays I know a lot of people should probably watch out for George because I don’t know if he necessarily can turn it down in his brain.”
Do you have a pre-game routine, whether you eat the same thing every week or you listen to a playlist? Do you have any kinds of pre-game routines like that?
“No, not really. I’m not very superstitious or anything like that, but I try to do what I can to feel comfortable and ready to go.”
What unique challenges does the Rams defense present in terms of both scheme and personnel?
“From a personnel standpoint, they have a lot of guys that can take over the game, can change the game. I think the biggest thing for us offensively, is just taking care of the ball. As long as we don’t have turnovers offensively, trust that our defense is going to get stops and get takeaways, I think that that’s really all we need to worry about.”
I asked Kyle basically the same thing, but when you’re playing Madden, you visualize route trees before the snap. What’s your process of visualizing plays and coverages? Do you have something that you go through before games, overnight, or right before each play where you sort of see the play out in your head?
“I’d say probably every rep you take, every time you picture a play, every time you read the play in the huddle, you have to visualize it. If I don’t know what my guys are doing, then it’s going to be really tough to run it against a defense.”