Will Kyle Shanahan debut the two-quarterback system? And other burning questions to watch for on Sunday

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd takes part in drills at an NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

The San Francisco 49ers will close out their 2021 preseason on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Levi’s Stadium. Sunday’s game will mark the first game in the Bay Area for the Raiders since leaving Oakland for a second time following the 2019 season.


Let’s take a look at the five burning questions to watch for this week:

1. Will Kyle Shanahan debut the dual quarterback system?


While he hasn’t named the starting quarterback for week one yet, Kyle Shanahan told reporters a couple of weeks ago that Trey Lance would play this season in certain packages and situations. This week during practice, he began the process of preparing this for the regular season. During the move the ball periods, Garoppolo would start the drives with Lance coming in to replace him for a few plays.


One of the main concerns with the dual quarterback approach is the possibility of throwing off their rhythm.
“I haven’t gone through it yet, so I’m sure, if I ever choose to do that in the regular season, I’m sure I’ll learn,” Shanahan told KNBR Thursday afternoon when asked about the challenges. “But I’ve always guessed is taking the rhythm out of somebody. I mean, for a quarterback, you get in a flow, and you can get hot, and then you can get cold. And I don’t know how much it would affect the individual in that way, just because I haven’t ever done it before.”
With Sunday being the final opportunity to practice this under game conditions, it would make sense to work the kinks out before the games start to count.

2. Will the full starting offensive line finally play together?


The 49ers invested heavily in their starting offensive line this offseason with the addition of Alex Mack through free agency and making Trent Williams the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL. Both have been practicing throughout training camp, however, they have yet to take the field for a game during the preseason.


Kyle Shanahan has mentioned that he would like to get everyone a few snaps this week, so we may finally get a glimpse at how this group will fit together.

3. Can Jalen Hurd make a strong case for a roster spot?


After sitting out a number of practices, Hurd has been a full participant this week. The primary issue for the 2019 third-round draft pick hasn’t been ability, but rather availability as injuries have limited him to only one preseason game to this point.


“We’re excited about him. I mean, we’re holding on,” Lynch told KNBR on Friday morning. “He hasn’t played in the first couple of years, but for good reason. He’s had legitimate injuries. But he’s been out there. We’ve had two really hard practices. And he’s done a great job in them. And it would be a really good thing for our team if he could be out there. So, we’re pulling for him, and he’s put in the work, and hopefully, he’s there, because he makes us a better team, if he is.”


With the 49ers expecting to keep six wide receivers on their final roster, now is the time for Hurd to show what he can do.

4. Will Jaquiski Tartt make his 2021 debut?


Jaquiski Tartt is widely recognized as one of the best safeties in the league when he is on the field.


Unfortunately for Tartt and the 49ers, the veteran safety has been unable to stay healthy. In many ways, Tartt is the Jimmy Garoppolo of the defense, playing in only 36 of San Francisco’s 64 regular-season games over the last four seasons.


The veteran missed the final seven games last season after suffering a turf toe injury during a week nine loss to the Green Bay Packers. The injury would sideline Tartt through training camp until this week.


When asked about the process for Tartt on Wednesday, Kyle Shanahan had this to say, “Going to see how he looks today. Hopefully, he can go these three days, show us that he’s healthy and can play at a high level. And hopefully, he’ll get some time in the game.”

5. Will Elijah Mitchell take the final running back spot?


After missing the 49ers’ first two preseason games with an abductor strain, Mitchell returned to practices this week. The rookie was given a number of carries and it appeared as though he was taking snaps away from JaMycal Hasty. With the 49ers likely taking only four halfbacks on the final roster, Mitchell will be looking to impress the coaching staff to prove he deserves a spot.

This article has 41 Comments

  1. #6 Will Bosa and Ford be healthy enough to play or will they be held back in order to play for the season.

  2. I hope KS uses Lance about 3 times a game. If he is playing 45% of the snaps or higher he might as well start Lance.
    I think its an either or situation with Hurd. Jennings and Hurd one will make the 53 the other the P.S.
    Tartt will not play sunday that will give him 2 more weeks to rehab the toe and hopefully he will start at Det.
    Mitchell will begin the yr on the PS but could be up by week 2 if healthy.

  3. Thank God college football is back. Keep your eye on D end San Jose St. Cade Hall. SJ St is on TV today. Hall is a great pass rusher and because of where he plays he might be available in the 4th round.

  4. Will the full starting offensive line finally play together?

    While I am curious to see them together as a fan, I think that this unit can hit the ground running in regular season because of their collective experience (except for Brunskill at guard). The Lions game would be sort of a tune up before they face the better D line of the Eagles.

    Can Jalen Hurd make a strong case for a roster spot?

    Based on ShanaLynch’s statements it appears that there is not much in playing ability that Hurd needs to show the coaches to be among the 6 receivers in the 53. It’s his ability to get through 3 days in a row (Friday practice and Sunday game) without coming down a recurring physical problem that sidelines him.

  5. Two QB system is an awful idea. Not only is the rhythm of a QB potentially affected, but so are many other things. The OL will have to adjust for blocking for a statue or a gazelle, not always easy. The receivers will have to adjust from a softball to a fastball, expect drops. While is may keep an opposing defense off balance, it might make your own offense just as unbalanced. When Jimmy finally goes and the team is turned over to Lance, they have to find a QB like Lance to be the backup. They will need a more mobile QB as the backup to at least “replicate” what the starter does.

    1. Not for nothing but Bill Walsh trained Joe Montana using a 2 QB system. Steve DeBerg was the starter. When he moved the team to the red zone then Walsh would put Montana in the game. He wanted Montana to experience the speed of the game on a compressed field.

      1. “Gavin Nuisance”…. “1.6 Patriot” …So clever, you two. And so much for no politics. Politics in sports bad only if they don’t agree with your politics, amirite boys?

        1. No I agree with you… though I am not sure about 1.6 patriot as I don’t know what it symbolizes.

          Leave off the politics guys.

          1. January 6 (1.6). A group of “Patriots” tried to bring down American Democracy. Pretty easy to determine the symbolism there.

              1. If someone wants to lead with their nose (how’s that for a Seb-ism?) and spout off, count me in, “Seb”

              2. Whatever you say, different screen name each posting. You are in mid season stupidity form.

    2. Milleneum, the only problem with 2 QBs is that the defense more than likely knows what to expect…
      TL = deep passes, running game
      JG = short/medium + one long pass

      1. That’s right Dee. You knew exactly what was coming when the Saints put in Taysom Hill. As I recall the success rate was nil.

        1. I think he will insert Lance carefully to begin with. I see very specific situations like near the goal line to take advantage of his duel threat capabilities. To give him any extended time, I believe Shanahan would want us to have a lead in the game or the believe that we are dominating. I doubt he will get a lot of playing time until he takes over as the starter.

          1. Expect a lot of mis- direction. Roll outs, Zone reads Etc, but fake zone to deep crossing patterns
            would be great to see. Everyone expects Trey run, but no it’s a pass.

  6. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I have been on my best behavior. LOL. Many in the analyst community are ranking the 49ers D line as a top 5 unit. If they stay healthy that will definitely be the case.

    1. If healthy top 5? I think that may be a conservative estimate, If this group stays totally healthy I can see this D being generational.

    2. Hmmm.
      Washington, TB, Pittsburgh and LAR are my top 4, SF is 5th for me.
      This DLine is good but I’ll need to see more from Ford before I consider it in the same category as the 2019 squad.

  7. Shanny will play Lance in RPO situations inside the redzone, creating 11 on 11 situations that panic defenses into blown assignments…Quick counts in this scenario also result in big play opportunities

  8. Bill Walsh utilized Montana in RPO’s inside the redzone, specifically the Washington game (his 1st game after back surgery) when he pump faked and ran in for a t d vs joe Gibbs. Of course Montana’s more fa.mous RPO’s came vs the Dolphins in the Super Bowl , running up the middle for a t d and running for nearly 100 yards and passing over 300 yes…Also see “The Catch” for .Ontonagon most famous redzone rpo.

  9. When I first heard Greg Papa was going to be the 49ers broadcaster a couple years back I was pretty excited.

    I guess I remembered him doing Warriors games back in the day of Hardaway, Mullin, Richmond and was reaching for a bit of that nostalgia.

    All I can say is he sucks doing 49ers games.

    The pseudo frat boy act is getting old quickly.

    1. Gavin,
      His schitck wears on me. I’ll take Ted Robinson any day and I don’t love Tim Ryan either.
      The 9ers running game seems to be rounding into shape. I think Mitchell ends up on the P.S. with Hasty making the 53. It was great to see Mostert. The D line depth is incredible, I see trades being made before Tues 1:00

      1. I would love to have Joe Starkey back. I know that won’t happen. I miss the good old days. He was the best.

  10. He must appeal to some demographic but for the life of me I can’t figure out which one.

    I can’t stand him and his stupid touchdown call.

    1. The “Treeeeeeey Aaaaaaareeeeeeaa!!!” call is every bit as bad as his “Touchdown San Fran…. Ciiiiissco”.

      This is going to be a long season with Papa and Green on the telecast.

      By any chance does Univision broadcast these games? Or is there some alternate language? Papa is horrible!

      1. So all the games are televised in the Bay Area, no? Why even listen to the radio play by play? Get ready for Joe Buck and Toy Aikman, an improvement, no? lol

        1. It’s pretty expensive to live out here. I decided to pull the plug and cancel cable. Since I live in the faaaar East Bay, the hills make it impossible to get the Over the Air TV coverage with an antenna. I’m stuck with something like Locast, which sucks because I have to “donate” to get uninterrupted broadcasts over the internet.

          I decided to stick without tv. I pay for one streaming service for entertainment. Otherwise, the $150/mo I used to spend is better spent on investments in myself… like training/certifications.

  11. Just as the team outsmarted all the experts on “who are the Niners going to pick?”, they’ve done the same with “who are the Niners going to start?” That well oiled platoon was a beautiful thing to watch.

  12. Rib,
    At half time Vern Glenn asked KS would he be using the QB’s like this in the regular season and he replied probably not. I see him using Lance for about 4 series a game. I think JG will be taking about 85 to 90 percent of the snaps until JG either gets hurt or loses two in a row or two out of three. imho

    1. Coach, Kyle may have been prevaricating. I think they will split like that for as long as it succeeds. It does give talking heads a new thing to talk about.

  13. I think they will split like that for as long as it succeeds.

    Yip, I think that would be the plan.
    for as long as it succeeds.

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