Trey Lance replaces Jimmy Garoppolo; Missed opportunities cost 49ers in 28-21 defeat

The 49ers fell into last place in the NFC West with a 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. San Francisco had a number of opportunities to bury Seattle in the first half, but an interception and missed field goal would keep the Seahawks in the game until Russell Wilson could get his feet underneath him.

When Seattle took possession of the ball with 4:48 left in the first half the 49ers had gained 209 yards of total offense to -12 yards for the Seahawks. And San Francisco’s lead was only 7-0.

On their second to last possession of the half Seattle’s offense would find the spark they were missing in running back Alex Collins. Wilson would open the drive off by finding Collins alone down the left sideline for a 28-yard completion. Collins would net nine yards rushing on the next two plays before Wilson would find D.K. Metcalf downfield for another 28-yard gain. Two plays later Wilson would hit Metcalf on a short post route for a 12-yard touchdown and the complexion of the game would completely change.

As the 49ers took the field to start the second half it was rookie quarterback Trey Lance, not Jimmy Garoppolo leading them onto the field.

After a quick four play series with only running plays led to a punt, Lance would get the opportunity to throw his first pass of the game on the next possession. On first down Lance would fake the handoff and roll to his right and with George Kittle wide open the rookie would throw the ball at the feet of the tight end for an incompletion. Two plays later on third down, Lance would throw the ball over the head of Deebo Samuel to end the possession.


Lance would struggle, going 2-7 for 87 yards and a touchdown before putting together a 13 play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the 49er’s final possession of the game. Lance would cap the possession off by finding Deebo Samuel for an 8-yard touchdown. While this drive had little bearing on the outcome of this game, they provided valuable snaps for Lance who will move into the starting role with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined for next week’s contest in Arizona.


Let’s take a look at the answers to the burning questions that I asked on Friday to see how this game got away from the 49ers.

1. Can the 49ers defense contain Russell Wilson? No

San Francisco’s defense did a terrific job on Wilson in the first half, including three consecutive drives that ended with sacks on third down. But as usually the case with Wilson, he would get it going in the third quarter.
On Seattle’s first play of the second half Wilson would scramble to his right for a gain of 12. While that possession would end up in a punt, Wilson would continue to make plays on the following drive. On second and eight from the 49ers 16-yard line Arik Armstead would get too far inside and Wilson would take off to his left for a touchdown to put the Seahawks up 14-7.

2. Can the 49ers run defense step up? No

San Francisco did a very good job on Chris Carson, holding Seattle’s starting running back to only 2.4 yards per rushing attempt.

When Seattle brought in backup Alex Collins everything changed. Collins’ first touch of the game was a 28-yard reception and he appeared to be playing at a much higher pace than Carson, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt including a 14-yard run to put Seattle up 28-13 early in the fourth quarter.

3. Will the San Francisco secondary be able to corral Seattle’s passing attack? No

As with everything else in this game, the San Francisco secondary held up pretty well until late in the first half. D.K. Metcalf would be held to four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, but his 28 yard reception from Wilson late in the first half played a pivotal role in turning the game around for the Seattle offense.

Metcalf’s counterpart Tyler Lockett would be held to only 24 yards on four receptions with a long of 19 yards. Lockett had dealt with a hip injury during the week and it seemed to slow him down for most of this game. 

Freddie Swain would get in on the action in this game as well. The Seahawks number three receiver for this game, Swain would haul in a 13-yard Wilson touchdown pass after the Seahawks quarterback was able to escape the grasp of a 49ers defender. 

4. Will Jimmy Garoppolo be able to carry the 49ers’ offense? No

Early on it looked like Garoppolo would be up to the task as he hit all six of his attempts for 70 yards on the 49ers’ first possession, including a 21-yard touchdown throw to Ross Dwelley.

The success of that first possession was short-lived as Garoppolo could only manage to go 8-17 for 95 yards with an interception for the remainder of the first half.

Garoppolo would leave the game after the first half with a calf injury. According to Garoppolo, the injury occurred during the first 49ers’ possession of the game. Perhaps that had something to do with the fall-off in his play, but at this point, the injury issue with the quarterback is just a part of who he is.

5. Can the 49ers score more than seven points in the first half? No

The San Francisco offense put up 209 yards in the first half, and for the third week in a row, they could manage only a single touchdown.

Unlike the previous two weeks, the 49ers’ offense didn’t look inept throughout the early portion of the game. On the first series the offense would go right down the field on a 71-yard touchdown drive.

After a Jimmy Garoppolo interception ended the next possession, the offense would put together a 68-yard drive that would stall on the Seahawks 23. With kicker Robbie Gould out due to a groin injury punter, Mitch Wishnowsky be called upon to attempt a 41-yard field goal but he would miss it wide to the left.

From that point on the offense would stall for the majority of the game as Seattle would open up a two-touchdown lead which San Francisco would not be able to overcome.


Seahawks 27 49ers 24

This article has 26 Comments

  1. Lance made it clear why he’s not the starter!
    George wanted to see him scramble and we saw him scramble with not much success.
    Some hard passes, some improv and 2 TD’s,

    1. Trey Lance had 41 yards on 7 runs, most of those were scrambles. So yah, he’s a very good scrambler, but we knew that. The kid moves like a big cat. The problem is, Kyle and his lousy QB Coach haven’t done nearly enough to develop Trey Lance as a passer. He looks about the same now, as he did early on in training camp. The good news is that some of it is clearly adrenalin / nerves, as he settled down as the game progressed and actually made a few nice reads and throws.

      Here’s the deal. When you draft a raw, but physically talented duel-threat QB, and you spend the kind of resources the 49ers did in order to draft him, you need to make his development the priority. That’s especially true if you are going to have him backup the most injury prone QB in the NFL. Instead, as I wrote a couple days ago, Kyle tried to have it both ways. He tried to have his cake, and eat it to. By failing to move on from Jimmy, he’s failed to really install a system tailored towards Trey’s skill set. A lot of analysts thought Kyle would embrace the young duel-threat QB, and build him up through schemes designed to give him open receivers in clever ways. I thought we would see a lot of zone/-read and RPO concepts early on, designed to help build up Trey’s confidence as well. Instead it’s looked extremely limited. For Example: The Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III. RG3 was even rawer than Lance in terms of pro passing concepts, but Kyle made it work because he designed a scheme built specifically for Griffin’s skill set. And RG3 ended up taking the Redskins to the playoffs during his rookie season, AND RG3 also made the pro bowl the same year. Unfortunately, RG3 got hurt towards the end of his rookie season. He was never the same runner after that, nor was he able to develop any further as a passer.

      The problem with Kyle’s approach is that he installed an offense built around Jimmy Garoppolo’s skillset, rather than signing a veteran mobile QB. So all Kyle has for Lance are some “packages”, which is far too limited to build a game plan around. So he allowed for a situation where he failed to develop Lance, but is forced to depend on him, even though he didn’t install enough in his offense, to help Trey by taking advantage of the things he does best, and avoiding putting him a situation where he’s trying to drop back and go through multiple progressions.

      1. There is a lot an offensive coach like Kyle can do to help a young, raw, mobile QB have success in the NFL, but they have to embrace it, not shy away from it. It can’t an afterthought. And the thing is, Kyle had to assume that Trey would get pressed into action at some point this season, being that Garoppolo is literally the most injury prone QB in the NFL.

        1. I feel bad for Trey, and I’m a little worried about his development now. Playing exclusively on the scout team isn’t going to get it done. And Rich Scangerello? Come on man! Has Scangerello ever developed a mobile QB? I’d love to know what he’s done to earn the opportunity to develop the 49ers franchise!

          Nick Mullen never really improved. CJ Beathard never really improved. Jimmy Garoppolo is the same QB now that he was in 2017.

          It doesn’t seem like Kyle wants to develop this kid. At least that’s the impression I get.

  2. Tough loss. 49ers came out strong but just couldn’t sustain that level of play. Dumb plays on special teams may hv been the difference in this game. This might be one of those instances where I’m in favor of cutting a player to send a message. Trenton Cannon fumbled that kickoff, misplayed the very next kickoff putting the offense in a hole, and then also should hv downed the ball inside the 5 yard line on a punt but rolled into the end zone for a touchback. That was at a time where the 49er Defense was destroying the Seahawks so that could hv been a great chance for a score. Maybe Cannon needs to go.

  3. The problem is, Kyle and his lousy QB Coach haven’t done nearly enough to develop Trey Lance as a passer

    I’m glad to see that you have been able to be present at all meetings and practices.

    He looks about the same now, as he did early on in training camp.

    Couldn’t have said it any better………..

  4. The 49ers are clearly opting to pattern their quarterback strategy after the Chiefs with Smith & Mahomes.

    I’m fine with that. If you read between the lines whatever was coming out of Shanny & Lynch’s mouths, it felt pretty clear they were setting up the team for sustained success starting next year.

    I’m okay with that because I had no real expectations for this year coming off a really bad year last year.

    That said, I don’t think Shanny thought Garoppolo would be as bad as he has been this year. Borderline backup QB level play.

  5. Congrats Giants

    1. Giants are the least respected 107 win team in history. Beat LA.
    2. I think the Jimmy Era is over. I have been a supporter in the past but it is time to move on. It is both the big things and little things with him. The well documented big things are lack of the deep ball , turnovers/picks and injuries. The little thing for me is his attitude. Last week after the GB loss I was furious and devastated. Jimmy on the other hand was grinning ear to ear when shaking hands with Rodgers. He seemed to have the ” I did my part ” attitude. He was pretty jovial on the sidelines today also. Not acceptable .
    3. I knew the game was over after the first half. We had a chance to score at the end of the first. Of course we wound up in a 3rd and long and Jimmy dumped off to Juice who was unable to convert. That play summed up why we need to make a change at QB.
    4. The most frustrating thing is that we out played them for much of the game. Niners total yards 450 – Seattle 250. We committed 2 critical turnovers which killed us , but still had other scoring opportunities.
    5. Our D looked gassed . Yes, It was hot out there but I’m pretty sure it was hot for Seattle also. Shanahan needs to rethink our preseason training .
    6. Some good news is that Hasty , Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Greenlaw and Josh Norman are returning next week or after the bye.
    7. More good news is the demise of Sermon was greatly exaggerated and Deebo just dominates.
    8 And even more good news is our D line kicked butt early and EMan and Dre are pretty good cbs.
    9. Finally I think Lance is ready to officially take over for the rest of the year. In the preseason game versus the Chargers he showed he could bounce back from a slow start. Last week versus GB he had the 3 yard scramble for a score and there was a second redzone play in which which he rolled out to his right and threw the ball away. He was poised and didn’t throw a pick or take a sack. Today , all things considered he was good. He needs to work on not throwing every pass 100 MPH but that will develop. He also needs to work on cadence and timing but that will come with first team reps.
    10. If we can step it up for 4 quarters and beat AZ we are in the hunt.

  6. The Shanahan mystique and lustre are starting to wear off for me. I see no improvement as a HC.

    Also, I thought then and I still think now that the team made a big mistake letting Breida go. Yes, he had some fumble issues but he is the only one in the same class with Mostert when it comes to explosiveness in KS’ offense. I do think he would have ably replaced Mostert whereas the other replacements have been marginal (although Mitchell did a good job for a rookie). Still not impressed with Sermon.

    1. Shanahan is a great coach. I think his issues are on the personnel side. I think he needs a stronger GM to push back on his draft crushes. Pairing a rookie head coach with a GM with zero experience may have been a bad strategy. Either that or the entire scouting dept needs to be replaced. Aaron Banks, Ambry Thomas, Trey Sermon, Jalen Hurd… the list of questionable draft decisions is lengthy. Even Jevon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk are starting to look a bit iffy when you take into consideration how high they were drafted. Given their track record I’m concerned about Trey Lance. The guy obviously has a rifle and he can run but I’m not sure he can sit in the pocket and read a defense. He’s certainly not anticipating throws rt now. I’m very interested to see what he does with a full week of preparation. Like I said, Shanny is a great coach. You just can’t make that many personnel errors and maintain success.

      1. IMO, one shouldn’t assume that being a good OC automatically extrapolates to KS being a good head coach. On another blog, Scooter_McG summed up nicely the issues with KS not developing as a HC. Here’s the questions he asked:

        “But player management? Player development? Game management? Decision-making (game and roster)? Adaptability? All remain question marks to me and I haven’t really seen much improvement.”

        I agree with this assessment.

        You’re probably right about JL not pushing back hard enough on KS draft crushes, but then JL had his own draft crushes that were busts. As Sour Yeast states below – “Two words, Solomon Thomas”.

        1. Not sure I agree with that assessment. Players play hard for Shanahan even in losing seasons. The vast majority of players praise Shanahan’s approach to player management. You look at guys like Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Kendrick Bourne or even Fred Warner and George Kittle who were 3rd & 5th round draft picks respectively and both have far exceeded expectations, so you really can’t tell me Shanahan doesn’t develop players. I guess you could point to Pettis and Breida but those are due to other reasons in my opinion.

          1. Interesting that none of the guys you mention are 1st or 2nd round picks. Bosa is different because he had lots of “development” growing up in his family. He doesn’t need someone to push him or really even give him much direction or advice. But Glinch, Aiyuk (great rookie year and now he’s fallen off the charts??!), Pettis (as you mention), Joe Wilson, Witherspoon and there are others. Just to be clear neither Scooter nor I are saying KS can’t do it, it’s just that after 4 years and now in his fifth, there’s nothing special about KS as a HC, imo. I’ll let Scooter speak for himself on that one. I quoted him because he summed up nicely my feelings on the subject.

          2. This is why I say they are question marks. You can point to some guys and say “see, he has developed”. But there are also plenty of guys that haven’t improved.

            Every team has this to some degree. And a lot of it comes down to the individual more than the coaches. But until Shanahan and co consistently get strong play out of the guys they bring in, and the ledger leans more towards guys developing than not, it will remain a question mark.

  7. Two words, Solomon Thomas. Bad pick but it said all you needed to know about the coach and front office.

    1. Can’t argue with that. I think undersized interior D-lineman are busts in the NFL the vast majority of the time. Aaron Donald is somewhat undersized but his strength and athleticism more than make up for it. Solomon Thomas does not have the strength or athleticism to overcome his size deficiency when compared to o-lineman and that should have been obvious to professionals in the football business.

  8. I expected a loss but it feels like this team is cursed… Lots of injuries to key players again. At this rate the end of the season will probably looks a lot like last years. I feel for Jimmy but am interested to see how Lance develops. Here’s hoping he becomes the player the Niners thought they were getting… Obviously he would be a huge miss if he isn’t setting this franchise back years.

    1. “At this rate the end of the season will probably looks a lot like last years. ”

      Oh, well. at least we’ll get a high draft pick, …..oh, wait???!!!

  9. With all the quarterback and coach angst let me just drop this nugget here 👇

    Deebo Samuel is already halfway to a one thousand yard season in week 4.

    More than half his yards have come after the catch.

  10. I have had 2 friends who tore their achilles tendons, they both described it as feeling like someone kicked them in the lower calf. They both walked off the injury and didn’t know it was torn until the next day. Sound like someone we know? I think Lance is our QB going forward and I am worried. Yesterday he showed he is not a great scrambler, he may be a great runner but he is not elusive. The difference between a great scrambler and a great runner is the difference Wilson and Kaepernick. The rest of this year may be rough. I hope they don’t do something stupid like firing K.S. I believe they do need changes, either Lynch needs to go if he has been picking their round 1 thru 3 draft picks or he needs to be given the authority to over ride K.S.’s picks. They need to replace the entire strength and conditioning staff as well as the training staff. How KS practices needs to be looked at closely. I was a huge fan of T. Lance going back as far as last Oct/Nov and still think he will develop but it could take up to 2 seasons so we need to be patient. I have been saying for years that the niners need one more level of management (a team president for example) a position who over sees the GM and HC. A lot like the role J. McVay filled. The rest of this season needs to be about development. All of the rookies need to be playing regardless of their struggles. imho

    1. One thing I like that I saw again from Lance is his bounce back after a slow start. Saw this on one of the preseason games. Also, you could see his play-making abilities. Lots of potential with this kid and I hope we have someone who could develop and maximize all his skills. Kyle’s records with his past QBs is making me nervous.

  11. Most of the things I predict, end up coming true over time. But don’t mistake me for being a psychic.

    For instance: if you asked me before yesterday’s game – who is the player most likely to line up offsides, during a really big defensive series? – I’d have told you it was Dee Ford.

    That doesn’t make me psychic … it makes Kyle a bad Head Coach!

    And another thing …. it’s not about how many yards a team gains, it comes down to scoring points.

    Always has, always will!

    And my gosh, it’s likely to be ugly again this coming week, guys, so I suggest you buckle up!

    1. Also …. do you guys understand the strategic flaw in having an emergency backup QB be a player who requires an entirely different game plan than your starting QB?

      Asking for a friend

  12. One thing that I’m curious about is KS’ comment that the gameplan wasn’t setup for Lance. This seems odd to me because they said they gave up the draft picks to get a rookie that could be a backup now and later the starter. Further, KS knows that Jimmy G is injury prone and Lance might have to go in at any time. And further still, he knows that TL and Jimmy G are two very different QBs so a gameplan for Jimmy G can’t be assumed to work for TL (he basically confirmed this with his comment). However, just like any prudent company, department or office or even person, there has to be a “disaster plan” in place for various situations. In other words they should have had a generic game plan for TL if he needed to replace an injured Jimmy G (the chances of which were and are very, very high). Therefore, I am left wondering about how well these guys actually plan things; or was this just an excuse by KS to try and placate angry fans. I wonder if KS gets so wrapped up in his specific game plans that he can’t see the forest for the trees as a HC needs to and do or delegate the planning that any entity/organization needs to do.

    1. I think you bring up a good point. And it’s consistent with their not working with Garoppolo the last three years on basic footwork and their having a band-aide approach to fixing their offensive line. If you were a “prudent” organization, you would act differently. Certainly the owner of your organization would require that and hold you to it. It all goes back to The Yorks of course. After firing their best head coach in decades after a .500 season, they replace him with Tomsula of all people for a year, then Chip Kelly for a year, and then give a guy with no head coaching experience a 6-year contract and let him pick his GM with no GM experience. Sorry, you know all that, cubus. I’m just ranting and I hope this works out some how.

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