49ers expected to play Trey Lance vs. Lions in Week 1

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) /

Despite his broken finger, the 49ers are expected to play rookie quarterback Trey Lance in the team’s regular-season opener against the Lions.

It probably wasn’t that big of a scare, to begin with, but the San Francisco 49ers had to be at least a little concerned when rookie quarterback Trey Lance suffered a “chip” in his index finger on his throwing hand during the Niners’ exhibition win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Aug. 28.

As a precautionary move, head coach Kyle Shanahan held Lance out of practices for a full week after the game, at least the parts where Lance had to throw a ball and partake in team drills.

Returning to practice and tossing balls this week, however, all signs are pointing to Lance at least being fully available for San Francisco’s Week 1 regular-season opener on the road against the Detroit Lions.

Officially, Lance was listed as “limited” to kick off the week on the 49ers’ injury report. But according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, speaking with KNBR 680’s Murph & Mac Show Wednesday morning, there’s no indication Lance will be unavailable this weekend at Ford Field:

"I was told that he’s going to be fine. No indication that I’ve received has said that he will miss Week 1. I guess anything is possible and an injury could be worse than anticipated. I was just told that he will be OK, so I am operating under that assumption until I am shown otherwise."

You can listen to Rapoport’s entire appearance on KNBR below:

How many snaps will 49ers give Trey Lance behind Jimmy Garoppolo?

Lance being available for Week 1 doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll see the field a lot, if at all.

All but confirming suspicions Shanahan would name veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo the starter, done by a team’s starting quarterback speaking to the media on Wednesday, Lance is nevertheless anticipated to see some special usage on certain packages and plays.

A proverbial “knuckleball,” if you’d like. Or, at least judging by Lance’s throwing velocity, a fastball for opposing teams.

Against the Raiders, Shanahan regularly rotated Garoppolo and Lance on the same drive, sometimes giving one two snaps before the other would come in relief for the subsequent two. When asked at halftime whether or not that would continue into the regular season, Shanahan’s response was “probably not.”

Related Story: 49ers name Jimmy Garoppolo, not Trey Lance a team captain

But that doesn’t mean Lance won’t see the field at all.

The X-factor here, of course, might be how comfortable Shanahan and the Niners feel about Lance’s finger injury and if there are any additional risks associated with playing him before it’s fully healed. Again, this isn’t a sprained joint or fracture on a load-bearing bone. Yet San Francisco might simply elect to be a bit overly cautious with its most lofty offseason investment.

If Lance winds up seeing the field against the Lions on Sunday, it might only be for a handful of snaps. Or if the 49ers wind up in total command of the game by the fourth quarter, perhaps Shanahan is comfortable enough giving Lance some garbage-time snaps.

Hat tip to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn for the find.

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