Fans will not have to wait long to see rookie quarterback Trey Lance on the field for the San Francisco 49ers this season.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan made that declaration straight up at the podium Friday, Aug. 5 while speaking to media members at Niners training camp. Tracy Sandler, founder and CEO of Fangirl Sports Network, tweeted video of Shanahan’s comments.
“Trey’s going to play this year,” Shanahan told reporters.
Lance Bound for Niners Lineup, But With Caveats
Shanahan was quick to add a caveat to his comments on Lance, making clear he had not just named the 21-year-old quarterback the starter over veteran Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I know you’re all running to Twitter with that,” Shanahan said of the news that Lance would receive playing time this season. “Situationally, he’s going to get plays. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be the starter or anything, but he’s going to get plays and you’ve got to prepare him for that every way possible.”
Shanahan and company have worked hard not to stir a quarterback controversy in the Bay Area, but it is appearing more and more that that’s precisely the situation on their hands.
Garoppolo has been a highly productive starter for the team when he’s been on the field, but he has often been injured during his time in San Francisco, starting only 30 games across four seasons (22-8).
The Niners mortgaged their future for Lance, trading away multiple first-round picks across three years in the NFL draft. So if Lance is ready, even if it is his rookie season, it makes sense for the team to play him.
News out of training camp would indicate that the young signal caller out of North Dakota State University is prepared to take an NFL field, as it can be easily argued he is having a better camp than Garoppolo.
According to Cohn, Lance had tossed seven touchdown passes, ran for two more scores and surrendered just one interception during the first week of official practice. Garoppolo had thrown for three touchdowns and three interceptions.
“Kyle Shanahan still won’t call the QB competition a QB competition, but he did say Trey Lance will play Week 1 even if he’s a backup,” Cohn tweeted Friday. “Only a matter of time until Shanahan names Lance the starter.”
Teammates Raving About Lance Through First Eight Days of Camp
If Lance does win the starting job, it does not appear he will have many detractors lining up beside him on offense.
“Deebo Samuel comes up to me at one point, and he’s like, ‘This guy’s got some balls.’ And I think that’s what the guys feel,” Shanahan said of Lance. “He goes out there, and he’s not scared to fail. He goes out there and lets it rip, and there’s some good, some bad. Players can feel it. When you’re not scared to fail and you’re talented, you do things the right way, guys believe it’s a matter of time.”
In a Thursday, Aug. 5 interview with Heavy.com, Niners All-Pro tight end George Kittle also offered glowing comments on Lance, saying he is the whole package.
“Trey has a running ability that adds to some of his playmaking ability, being able to get out of the pocket,” Kittle said. “He’s got a cannon for an arm.”
From the way it sounds, Niners Nation is going to get a chance to see that cannon fire off sooner than later, perhaps even in Week 1.