Kyle Shanahan Details Trey Lance’s Challenging Season, Second Surgery

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Trey Lance on the field for the San Francisco 49ers.

Trey Lance has been a member of the San Francisco 49ers for two years. Initially drafted into the NFL with the third-overall pick in the 2021 draft, the North Dakota State product has appeared in eight games with two starts over his first two years with the Niners but has since been on the bench with a complex ankle injury that required surgery. While 49ers fans have since moved on to fully backing Brock Purdy as the team’s rookie-scale contract quarterback with a bright future ahead of him, Lance has technically been with the team all season, even if he’s been on injured reserve since September.

Asked about how Lance has dealt with the complicated nature of his second professional season, Kyle Shanahan complimented his young quarterback’s mindset during his final media session before Week 18.

“Trey’s been great,” Shanahan said via 49ers WebZone. “I haven’t had to go through it, but I’ve seen players do it, and I can’t tell you how hard it is for guys when they get hurt at the beginning of the year because of their expectations going in, how big of a part of the team they are, especially when it’s the quarterback and then just like that their season’s over and Trey’s had to do the rehab hard. Once he started getting to travel with us and be a part of everything, I think it got a little bit easier, but it’s always still a challenge for a guy. They want to be out there so bad.”

“Trey’s handled it great. As good as any injured player I’ve ever been around, he stays positive, he comes off the right way, but I know it’s a challenge for him. Having to get the new surgery, that hasn’t been a surprise for us. We’ve known that for a little bit, and we also knew there was a high chance of that happening anyways.

“When he went into it, he broke a bone, and the first thing was they had to fix that break once they fixed the break, there was always worry that when you fix the break, will that rub the wrong way or something like that, and they fixed the break great, and then they knew they had to go in and fix that, which he’s known for a while and they went and cleaned it up, and I think that even made him feel better, so he could move on from that. And he’s feeling great now with his rehab, and I know he can’t wait to get to this offseason.”

Though the 49ers won’t be the same team Lance left in Week 2 when he’s healthy enough to compete when camp rolls around, as Heavy’s resident former GM Randy Mueller believes he could be in a competition with Purdy this summer, fans should be encouraged to know that the former NDSU quarterback in good spirits despite having to undergo a second surgery to start off the new year.

Trey Lance’s Second Surgery was Done on Schedule

While on the topic of Lance, Shanahan was asked why the 49ers quarterback had his second ankle surgery so late in the season – on January 1, to be exact – when he suffered the injury in Week 2. For Shanahan, the decision was totally by the books.

“Because you have to wait a while to see how the bone heals, and then the break healed, and it healed really well. I know everyone says all surgeries are successful and then why do you have to go back in? And this was an understanding on that. I’m not a medical guy, so I think there’s something we had to tie together to make sure the bone healed back together, but every time you do that, there’s a high chance that it can rub on some tendons and just cause the irritation. They warned us about that before it happened, and Trey told us about it right away, and that was a good thing when they had to go back in there, you could see that the bone 100% healed, and they just had to fix that band, so it didn’t irritate it any more. And now he’s right back to where he was.”

According to CBS Sports, a second surgery was required to remove hardware that caused irritation on the ankle. Assuming Lance’s second surgery doesn’t have any issues with the recovery process, he is expected to make a full comeback and isn’t expected to miss any time in 2023.

Josh Johnson May See Action for the 49ers in Week 18

As the Niners prepare for the regular season finale, one of the big questions surrounding the game remains how many snaps, if any, will backup quarterback Josh Johnson play against the Arizona Cardinals? Will the team attempt to get him into the contest regardless of the score in order to get some live reps against another NFL defense? Or will the Niners keep Purdy in a close game in order to fully commit to closing out the regular season on a nine-game win streak? Shanahan weighed in on the topic too.

“I think that’s a good bonus, but I wouldn’t say a desire,” Shanahan said on getting Johnson into the game. “I feel fine with Josh. He’s been in this league for a long time. He’s been in that role to where he hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time, and he’s had to come in and do that at a spur of the moment, so I’m okay with Josh in that situation, but it always does help.”

Despite being drafted into the NFL in 2008, Johnson has only appeared in 38 games with nine starts, including one appearance for the 49ers. Still, there’s a reason why the Niners signed Johnson off of the Broncos’ practice squad immediately after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered his potentially season-ending injury; he’s an expert at learning offense and has past experience in Shanahan’s scheme, which is more than Ben Roethlisberger, the long-time Pittsburgh Steelers QB who expressed interest in the position, can say.

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