Trey Lance won’t start Week 1 unless 49ers do this

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) /

Will Trey Lance start Week 1 for the 49ers in 2021? Or is it still Jimmy Garoppolo’s job? Either way, there’s one remaining thing that must happen first.

San Francisco 49ers Twitter can be an amazing thing at times. But there are also moments where fans are forced to take one side of an argument.

Even when it’s a divisive one.

Either you’re fully on board with the idea rookie quarterback Trey Lance starts Week 1 for the Niners, replacing the veteran, Jimmy Garoppolo. Or you’re in the camp that states Lance isn’t quite ready yet and might not be for a while.

Whatever side of the argument you fall on, at least based upon what’s been reported from training camp and what’s been seen over Lance’s two preseason outings, there’s one telling sign yet to develop.

And that development will have a pretty good indication of whether or not Lance is in line to start when the regular season kicks off for San Francisco on Sept. 12.

Trey Lance must see significant snaps with 49ers first-team O-line

There are going to be plenty of “watch” items during the 49ers’ exhibition finale on Aug. 29 against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

But if Lance boosters want a good indication of the rookie’s immediate future and whether or not head coach Kyle Shanahan is envisioning starting the quarterback as soon as Week 1, Lance will need to see a serious number of reps with the first-string offensive line.

Yes, Lance has had a couple of snaps with this unit here and there in training camp, primarily on RPOs and other niche-type plays.

Yet the bulk of first-team offensive snaps have still featured Garoppolo, not Lance. And even though Lance got in a little work behind a patchwork starting group of offensive linemen against both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers during the first two preseason games, it’ll be vitally important he experiences time with the Niners’ up-front starting cast.

Including veteran center Alex Mack, with whom Lance will have to ensure snaps are conducted cleanly and without error.

Related Story: Grading Trey Lance’s efforts in preseason win vs. Chargers

It’s one thing for Lance to target first-string wide receivers like Deebo Samuel, and even getting some time behind starting O-linemen like Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill and Laken Tomlinson for a handful of snaps had its merits.

But if Shanahan is fully intending on Lance starting Week 1, the true indicator will be the quarterback seeing a massive uptick in reps behind the full crop of starters.

49ers vs. Raiders: Watch how many snaps Trey Lance takes with starting O-line

Shanahan is treating San Francisco’s exhibition bout against Las Vegas as the final dress rehearsal for the regular season, and it’s usually common for teams doing this to play their crop of starters for the first half.

Assuming the starting O-line is good to go and plays the first two quarters, identifying how many snaps and drives Lance gets with the first-stringers will be a pretty good determining factor in guessing whether or not Shanahan is planning on the rookie starting in Week 1.

If Garoppolo comes out relatively early, perhaps one quarter or less, that might be a pretty good indication Lance’s chances of starting sooner than later are high.

But if Lance only gets a drive or two behind the starting O-line, or even winds up taking the field solely with the second-team unit, there’s your answer, too, only in the reverse-case scenario.

Next. Winners, losers from 49ers preseason win vs. Chargers. dark