49ers open the door for Trey Lance to start Week 1, but should he?

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan raised many eyebrows by refusing to guarantee a starter for Week 1, but should rookie Trey Lance be given the nod?

If the last preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders doesn’t pique your interest in itself, perhaps the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan has refused to name the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback for Week 1 might.

The idea of a quarterback controversy had already been a storyline that was burning in the minds of Niners fans everywhere. Shanahan did what could basically be considered dumpling gasoline on that already burning fire.

But how did San Francisco get from having incumbent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the confirmed starter, to having Shanahan refuse to confirm him as the starter despite saying “nothing had changed.”

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance played better in his second preseason game, but it’s a case of how sometimes the stats don’t always tell the full story.

It’s certainly true that Lance had an impressive game against the Los Angeles Chargers, overcoming a slow start and an interception (which in fairness, was the result of a drop) to have a productive game. But the stats (eight completions from 14 attempts, 102 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) don’t tell the story that Lance could have thrown another two interceptions when Chargers defenders dropped two of his passes.

Of course, a few of Lance’s throws were drops (including one that turned into his interception has mentioned) or thrown away, so it could be argued the stats didn’t reflect how well he played.

But the point is it’s debatable whether or not Lance has done enough right now.

Lance is a raw prospect, that’s understood. He’s been very impressive in picking up the nuances of the Shanahan offense, but he still has some wrinkles to iron out in his game.

Garoppolo played fine in his limited action, and like Lance, the pick he threw was not his fault and was the result of a drop. It’s clear he’s still got the same limitations as last year, but it’s also clear he hasn’t made any major regressions.

So what exactly did Shanahan say? He hints that while the situation hadn’t changed, he hasn’t made up his mind either:

"49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said afterward that Garoppolo began training camp as the starter, and nothing has happened to change that.“The situation is pretty similar,” Shanahan said of the quarterback battle.But Shanahan also said he’s not ready to declare Garoppolo the Week 1 starter.“No, I’m not making that announcement,” Shanahan said. “Nice try, though.”Asked when he would make the announcement, Shanahan said, “Whenever I feel like it. Not tonight. I promise it will be by that Sunday.”"

Shanahan may be treating the Raiders game as a final audition for Lance. If he really impresses, he may just get the keys to the franchise sooner rather than later.

Unless Shanahan confirms that Garoppolo is the starter, this is a story that isn’t going to go away. If Lance outperforms Garoppolo in the final preseason game, whether he confirms it at all will be another matter.

Next. 49ers vs Chargers: 5 bubble players who earned roster spot. dark