49ers may have no choice but to start Trey Lance vs. Cardinals

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

With Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a calf injury in the 49ers’ Week 4 loss to the Seahawks, rookie quarterback Trey Lance might have to start Week 5 by default.

The San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 season is turning into a bit of an oddity.

The Niners fell to 2-2 after dropping their second consecutive game of the season, a 28-21 defeat at Levi’s Stadium to the Seattle Seahawks in which the defense played remarkably well over the first half, yet head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense only managed to muster seven points before halftime.

Perhaps that had a lot to do with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a calf injury on the opening series of the game.

Garoppolo managed to play the first half of the game, which culminated in a mere 7-7 tie with him going 14-of-23 for 165 yards with a touchdown against an interception. But the biggest kicker was Garoppolo coming out in the second half in favor of his rookie quarterbacking understudy, Trey Lance.

Trey Lance gives 49ers some promising moments but is still raw

Lance has seen some modest moments this season, usually coming in for a play or two before head coach Kyle Shanahan reverted back to Garoppolo. When Lance didn’t exit, however, there was some questions whether or not Shanahan was finally making the switch long term to spark what was otherwise an anemic Niners offense.

Garoppolo was ruled as “questionable to return” with a calf injury. And Jimmy G never returned during the game, instead Lance got the rest of the snaps under center for the remainder of the contest.

The No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick had his moments, yes, tossing two touchdowns to wide receiver Deebo Samuel while also rushing for 41 yards on seven scrambles.

At the same time, though, Lance still showed the indecisiveness and inexperience alongside the potential for dynamic playmaking ability.

Turns out, 49ers may have to start Trey Lance in Week 5 vs. Cardinals

In the postgame presser, a visibly emotional Garoppolo admitted it was getting tiring having to deal with injuries suffered on the field. Speaking to the media, Garoppolo confirmed he suffered the calf injury on his right leg on San Francisco’s first opening possession. He felt OK enough for the first quarter, but things started to get worse into the second. At that point, Garoppolo admitted the pain was spreading down his leg.

Shanahan also noted he wasn’t aware of Garoppolo’s injury until late in the half, which resulted in the scramble for Lance to take over.

Garoppolo is going to have an MRI on the leg on Monday, which will determine the severity of the injury and potential length of the recovery. But a small nugget in his postgame presser was the fact he thought it could be “a couple of weeks.”

If so, Lance will get the start in Week 5 against the last remaining undefeated team in the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals, who beat the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4.

For those worrying about Lance’s sometimes shoddy moments against Seattle, it’s important to point out the rookie hasn’t received a ton of reps during weekly practices, rather running the scout team and not getting a lot of work with the first-team unit.

Depending on Garoppolo’s injury, one can figure that’ll change this week.

Even if Jimmy G is considered day-to-day.

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