49ers vs. Chargers: Trey Lance starts slow, rebounds with touchdowns

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

49ers rookie Trey Lance got off to a shaky start in the second preseason game of 2021 against the Chargers, but a nice rebound sure helps.

Early on during the San Francisco 49ers‘ second preseason game of 2021, there were still plenty of signs rookie quarterback Trey Lance was, well… a rookie.

Lance had some growing pains on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers after coming in relief of the starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, who also showed some problems facing off against head coach Brandon Staley’s defense, albeit an exhibition showing.

At one point, Lance was 1-of-5 for 9 yards with an interception. But as was the case during Lance’s NFL debut against the Kansas City Chiefs, many of his receiving targets had trouble holding onto the ball.

Granted, many of Lance’s passes were hot, much faster than the kind of throws Niners pass-catchers were used to from Garoppolo and former San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens. And one could make the argument Lance was a little off target, too.

One drop by wide receiver Deebo Samuel on 3rd-and-long didn’t help matters, but an even bigger surprise was seeing veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu drop a pass from Lance than ended up being intercepted by the Bolts:

Again, one could make the argument Lance bears some of the blame for the continued drops. But it’s also safe to state he wasn’t exactly getting the best of help from his targets.

Yet the challenge for any rookie quarterback, even in the preseason, is to react accordingly.

Lance did.

49ers retake lead after Trey Lance responds with impressive touchdown drives

After the shaky start and falling behind 10-2, even though the 49ers opened up scoring with a defensive safety, Lance engineered an impressive drive to get the Niners in the end zone with less than a minute remaining in the first half.

Featuring a 41-yard completion to the same receiver who caught Lance’s first preseason touchdown, wide receiver Trent Sherfield.

With 12 seconds left before halftime, Sanu made up for his earlier gaffe by hauling in a 5-yard touchdown:

It was certainly refreshing to see Lance bounce back from the earlier sluggish start while also executing a well-done two-minute drive.

Lance almost successfully ran in a two-point conversion, too, only to have the score called back by an offensive holding call.

Nevertheless, Lance responded again on San Francisco’s opening second-half possession, engineering an 11-play, 63-yard drive that chewed up 6:28 of clock and culminated with yet another touchdown pass, this time to wide receiver Travis Benjamin to put the 49ers on top in the third quarter:

What was also impressive about this drive was Lance and the offense having to overcome another penalty, a hold that backed up the offense and set up a 1st-and-20.

Read More: 3 things Trey Lance must do in preseason game vs. Chargers

That drive proved to be the Niners’ last for Lance, as the offense gave way to third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld for the rest of the exhibition contest.

Lance’s overall line was 8-of-14 with at least three drops, 102 yards, two touchdowns against the interception and a 89.9 passer rating. He also rushed for 8 yards, too, doing something he didn’t do against the Chiefs a week ago.

The best overall takeaway? Lance bounced back after some struggles early and looked as if he had good command of the offense after his shaky start.

San Francisco’s backups held the 15-10 score after Lance departed to get the team’s first preseason win of 2021.

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