NFL Writer Declares 49ers ‘100%’ Don’t Have a Trey Lance Problem

San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance

Getty San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance tossing the ball to Jeff Wilson.

After a summer of hype, expectations and the least-competitive quarterback competition of all time, San Francisco 49ers fans finally saw the opening scene of “The 2022 Trey Lance Story.”

His official debut as the Niners’ starting quarterback wasn’t easy to watch (13-of-28 for 164 yards and intersection), but after San Francisco’s 19-10 road loss to the Chicago Bears, one writer declared that Lance is not the 49ers’ problem.

“Finished the Niners’ film. 49ers absolutely, clearly, 100% DO NOT have a Lance problem,” The Ringer’s Benjamin Solak tweeted on September 12. “He had some rough plays, some great ones. Fine debut. They DO have an iOL problem. Constant interior pressure. Missed blocks in (the) running game. Lance’s legs saved them from an even worse day.”

On one of the rainiest days in Chicago history, Lance led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 13 times for 54 yards in an ugly affair that saw the Niners outgain the Bears in basically every statistical category except points scored.

Pro Football Focus Tells a Different Tale of the Niners’ Tape

Did the interior of the Niners’ offensive line allow pressure, as Solak suggested?

The 49ers had four offensive linemen — tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey and guards Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford — earn overall offensive ratings of 70 or higher from Pro Football Focus. The only offensive lineman who didn’t finish out the week with an above-average offensive grade was Jake Brendel, the team’s center who was thrust into the difficult position of replacing Alex Mack, who retired in June.

“I thought they did a real good job,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said September 12 via conference call, according to NBC Sports’ Jennifer Lee Chan. “I thought they did good in pass protection. I thought it was a real good, positive first game for those three. By no means were they perfect, but I thought they did a real good job for their first time.”

Lance’s 53.7 grade was slightly higher than the 51.2 given to Brendel, and both ratings fell in the bottom-quarter percentile league-wide. Still, it’s the first week in an 18-week season and three other offensive players beyond the four linemen graded at 70 or above: wide receiver Juan Jennings, running back Elijah Mitchell and tight end Tyler Kroft.

Could Lance Lose His Job?

San Francisco fans finally got a glimpse into whether the former third-overall pick out of North Dakota was ready to lead Kyle Shanahan’s offense to the promised land or his added abilities as a rusher would be overshadowed by a lack of competency as a passer. At best, Lance would put on a master class, the likes of which would be recalled fondly for years to come. And at worst? Well, Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the team.

In fact, NBC Sports’ Peter King predicted Garoppolo would take back the starting role he held for three seasons by Week 7, when the 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

“How will George Kittle and Fred Warner and Arik Armstead and Deebo Samuel, all good team guys, react privately if Trey Lance struggles the first month of the season?,” King wrote the September 5 edition his weekly “Football Morning in America” column. “Will the Niners’ leadership council go to Kyle Shanahan and say, ‘Come on. We gotta win these games?’”

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