Nothing official, but all signs point to Trey Lance starting for 49ers against Houston

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) walks off the field after the 49ers were defeated by the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

It’s not quite official, but all signs point to Trey Lance making his second career start for the 49ers on Sunday against the Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium.

While San Francisco has officially listed Jimmy Garoppolo as doubtful for Sunday, no 49ers player has played in a game this season after being listed as doubtful on the Friday injury report.

Garoppolo suffered a third-degree sprain to the ulnar collateral ligament of his right thumb late in the first half of San Francisco’s 20-17 loss to Tennessee last Thursday when he was sacked by Titans defensive end Denico Autry and is listed as doubtful for Sunday.

The veteran quarterback has yet to throw this week, and the team will assess the injury again on Saturday with the hope that Garoppolo will be able to play.

“We’re told that each day that we can push back on him throwing, it gives his thumb a better chance for it to stay,” Shanahan explained. “So, we’re trying to hold him throwing until tomorrow, possibly Sunday.”

Lance has tried to make the most of the opportunity to work with the starting offense this week.

“I don’t know if Jimmy’s going to be able to go or not on Sunday, but for me to be able to get those reps was huge,” Lance told Bay Area reporters on Friday. “Whether I go on Sunday or not, I think I gained a lot from it.”

While Lance would be throwing his first passes in a game since a 17-10 loss to Arizona on Oct. 10, 49ers staff and his teammates have pointed to his improved performance in recent practices. 

“I think this last month of Trey has been his been consecutive four weeks of practice since we’ve had him,” Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

Fred Warner and Trent Williams have both shared their thoughts about Lance’s play in recent weeks.

Following the 49ers victory over Atlanta on Dec. 19, Warner brought up Lance without prompting, telling reporters that Lance had been dicing up San Francisco’s starting defense in practice.

On Wednesday, Warner was asked about the improvements he’s seen in Lance.

“I kind of had to pull him to the side and tell him, ‘This is your opportunity to take chances and develop in that part of your game. Take a chance. See if you can fit the ball into tight spaces. Can you make a big play down the field,’ said Warner.

“After that conversation he started to just grow, and you started to see these crazy plays where he’s just getting the ball right over guy’s fingertips and making great plays downfield. It’s just a confidence thing.”

With Garoppolo unable to practice this week, George Kittle has been able to work with Lance this week and has been impressed with the growth he’s seen from the rookie. 

“I think Trey has looked good,” Kittle said. “The last couple of months I think there has been huge improvement. Whatever you guys saw in camp; I think he has been way better than that. He looks more mature in the pocket.

“He is not relying on his legs to make plays. He is sitting in the pocket, and he is reading it a little bit more and he is taking a little bit more chances in the pocket. He doesn’t take off at the first sign of a color, he kind of shifts in the pocket and he is still able to deliver a ball. 

“That’s what you want to see. He has definitely improved in the last several weeks.”

Trent Williams shared his view of Trey Lance with Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt of NBC Sports Bay Area for the 49ers Talk podcast.

“We feel more than comfortable from what Trey has shown us these last few weeks, his development as a QB,” said Williams. “Obviously everybody else around him has to play a little better, but I think he will give us a chance to complete all the goals we set out for.”

This article has 12 Comments

  1. Trey has certainly captured the attention of his teammates. All he has to do now is prove himself in real game scenario.

    With Houston coming in with one of the worst run defenses in the league it gives the 49ers run game a big boost while also taking some pressure off Trey.
    And if Mitchell can play on Sunday it really enhances the run attack and Lance may only need to throw 15-20 passes.
    This game was made in heaven for Trey Lance to start!

  2. This is the beginning of a great story. One where a rookie steps in late in the season and saves his teams playoff spot or one where he steps in wets the bed and ends up being one of the biggest draft busts in draft history. I expected him not to be ready in his first start but I expect great improvement in his second start. If he doesn’t show at least solid improvement his future scares me. Go Trey, this teams future over the next at least 5 years depends heavily on your ability. If he looks at least avg I believe it won’t be difficult for the FO to build a great team next year. I think they will be better off cutting JG than trading him but having to pick up a good portion of his salary. Cut JG trade Warner for a top 10 pick or a later 1st rounder and multiple other picks. That will clear lots of cap room and get us back a 1st pick. I know Warner is a great leader but I also think Al-Shaair could develop into a better player than Warner. If Trey continues to improve and the Fo makes the right off season moves it could lead to a dominant 5 years or longer run. imho

    1. Wait..you’re saying if Trey loses this game..He’ll be a bust in his second start???

      It’s mind boggling how Jimmy can play like a rookie and people have patience….

      But From the getgo..Trey has to be a superstar from the jump

      If Jimmy and Alex Smith…and to an extent…Kap ….can get multiple chances…so can Trey…

  3. Another disappointingly loss for Jim Harbaugh. Will he ever win a Championship?

    I see a pattern with a Harbaugh coached team. He relies on bronze to overwhelm the opponent, but he has a difficult time going against speed teams. The Wolverines looked like the were playing in sand tonight.

    1. That was disappointing lost. I thought about you brother… It was over by the end of 1st half. But I think that Michigan team is more built to beat Ohio. Now i hope they can improve from what they have and aim for the National title instead of just winning the big ten. That disparity in speed and size reminds me when we beat the Packers in the playoff with Kap in route to SB! That night we were bigger, faster and so much more physical than the cheeseheads! Great memories… sigh…

      1. I hear you, brother.
        Harbaugh will always be a good head coach, but winning a Nat Chip will be his crowning reward.

        The young QB that played the last 5 minutes of the game could be a star next year, but he took some hard hits on a couple of runs. He needs to put on more muscle and work on accuracy to make a difference next year.

        Happy New Year’s
        To All!

  4. Getting into the playoffs was a huge accomplishment for Harbaugh and the wolverines. They lost last night because Georgia had better players. It’ll be tough to ever match Alabama and Georgia in recruiting but this seasons success should help a lot.

    1. I agree Felix.
      The recruiting wars are usually won by Alabama and Georgia. Alabama consistently puts 5-8 players in the pros each year and goes to Nat Chip games and wins almost every time.
      The lure for top high school players looking to fulfill their dreams seem to begin in Alabama.

      Looking back at the Georgia, Michigan game, I don’t remember Mich. DE Hutchinson getting one sack and was consistently throttled by the Georgia O-Tackle (his number was 70).

      But yes, this was a great year for Harbaugh and perhaps it brings in some top shelf high school players to the program.

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