49ers news: Kyle Shanahan coy about Trey Lance starting

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite some struggles from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 49ers training camp, Kyle Shanahan isn’t ready to push Trey Lance into the fray just yet.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed two interceptions during San Francisco 49ers training camp sessions over the weekend, then had another pick thrown on Monday when he was trying to hit tight end Ross Dwelley during a red-zone drill.

Warner had one of those previous interceptions, too, reminding many a Niners fan of the difficulties Garoppolo has often had recognizing lurking linebackers in the middle of the field.

Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Trey Lance scored three touchdowns in a row during his red-zone drills, two passing and a third on the ground. And while Lance later tossed his first interception of training camp, his performances certainly won’t quiet the growing chorus suggesting he, not Garoppolo, should be named the starter by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t having any of that, however.

Kyle Shanahan isn’t committing to Trey Lance as 49ers’ QB1… yet

During Monday’s post-practice press conference, Shanahan didn’t even get into the idea Lance was closing the gap with Jimmy G.

Not even when it comes to giving Lance some first-team reps over Garoppolo.

Kyle Shanahan and Players Review Day 5 of #49ersCamp

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Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Monday, August 2, 2021

"No, we’re not splitting up the reps going up against the ones and stuff. I thought Trey had one of his better days on Saturday, but that was nothing to move him up there, to start talking differently with Jimmy or anything like that."

When asked if he felt Lance could get first-team reps anytime soon, Shanahan responded, “I haven’t planned that at all.”

Garoppolo has taken the entirety of first-team reps throughout training camp, and Shanahan admitted Lance still has a long way to go to catch up with the veteran:

"Jimmy’s played too good of football. He is too good of a player. And Trey’s trying to learn everything right now and soak it all in. So, that’s why I’d be very surprised if he was able to do that."

Is Kyle Shanahan forcing Trey Lance to earn 49ers quarterback job?

It’s always important to look at the words behind the words from any head coach during pressers like these, and Shanahan’s comments are no different.

Shanahan has long since deferred to veterans over rookies at important positions, and the thought Lance would simply be handed the job over Garoppolo because San Francisco traded up to No. 3 overall in this year’s NFL Draft to get the rookie doesn’t quite carry enough merit.

Or does it?

Shanahan can’t come out and say something along the lines of “Garoppolo better watch out, because Lance is coming for him,” as that would lessen some of the need for Lance to do what Shanahan wants.

Earn the starting job.

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This is consistent with some comments Shanahan made to NBC Sports’ Peter King over the weekend, where the head coach sang Garoppolo’s praises:

"What I told Jimmy right when we made the trade is, “I don’t know any rookie who can come and beat you out if you’re playing at his best self.” I didn’t necessarily think he was there last year at training camp. Then he had the injuries and stuff. But right now I see him playing well out here. If he can continue to go that way, that’s great for Trey. That’s great for our team. Then Trey can wait till he’s at his best self, which doesn’t happen overnight."

Lance is undoubtedly aware of these comments, and he has to understand Shanahan won’t make it easy on him by saying, “you’re close” or anything like that.

But the true intentions are already there. The 49ers traded up for Lance. And by all accounts, Lance is looking all the part of a top-five draft pick, especially a quarterback.

Yet Shanahan won’t commit to crowning him just yet. Lance still has to earn it.

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