Many are criticizing the head coach of six NFL seasons for “malpractice” on quarterback Trey Lance, who left the 27-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks with a broken ankle that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area was one who used the “M” word to blast Shanahan for using Lance as a “fullback.”
Shanahan spent the early part of the week of September 19 defending his decision to use Lance’s legs — using Buffalo Bills franchise quarterback Josh Allen as an example of what he was trying to spark with Lance behind center.
But on Thursday, September 22, Shanahan received a strong backer in the form of a 49ers icon.
‘Look, it’s Football’
Steve Young came to the defense of Shanahan in his appearance on KNBR 680’s Tolbert and Copes Show.
“Look, it’s football,” Young began to state. “And running quarterbacks out of the huddle is dangerous.”
Young pointed out to one key game last season that involved Shanahan going with specially designed running plays — none of them drawn up for Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Remember last year when Trey played against the Cardinals, I think he [Shanahan] ran him 13 times out of the huddle,” Young reminded. “I mean, we all kind of [thought], ‘Really, is that what we’re doing?'”
In going back to that contest, that was Lance’s first-ever NFL start. And while the then-rookie threw for 192 passing yards, he ran the football 16 times and became the leading rusher that afternoon with 89 yards in the 17-10 loss in Glendale, Arizona.
Young knows a thing or two about running with the football. After all, the Super Bowl 29 Most Valuable Player racked up 4,239 yards and scored 43 rushing touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career according to Pro Football Reference.
Did Young Know Lance Would be Running?
There are fans who believed that Shanahan would keep certain elements of the 49er offense catered to Garoppolo where Lance would settle for short, timing passes to get him into a groove, rather than utilize his legs early.
Young, though, was never a believer in that offensive philosophy that benefits Garoppolo.
“Running him [Lance]…was going to be in the cards,” Young continued. “And so I worry that Trey — there’s guys that can run because they understand how to get down and get out of trouble, and there’s guys that don’t.”
“We believed that he was that guy,” Young continued. “And I believe that they believed that Trey could do that. A quarterback run for Trey Lance? That’s part of the deal, isn’t it?”
Now, many are wondering that once Lance returns to the gridiron in 2023, that the 49ers will opt out of calling designed runs for Lance. Young questions if the 49ers will even consider getting out of that thinking.
“My point is maybe going forward when Trey gets back on the field, now we realize it might not be the thing that really he’s comfortable doing because we’re finding this out. But isn’t that part of the deal we made with Trey is that we believed he was a guy that could do that?” Young concluded.