Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense was stagnant enough in the first half in Week 4 versus the Seahawks, but Trey Lance coming in couldn’t make up the difference.
Well, San Francisco 49ers fans. If you were tired of seeing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helm the offense and were eager to watch the rookie, Trey Lance, Week 4’s 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks was your first case example of the year.
Now, the 49ers find themselves last in the NFC West, tied with Seattle on the 2-2 record but behind in the standings because of the one-on-one matchup.
Sunday’s game was weird for a number of reasons. The Niners ended up missing kicker Robbie Gould before the opening kickoff, him going out with a groin injury and leading to punter Mitch Wishnowsky trying his best (and still failing more than he’d like) to sneak kicks through the uprights.
San Francisco’s defense also manhandled Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Co. to the tune of three first-half sacks and there mere touchdown before halftime.
Except Garoppolo and the offense, aside from an early touchdown to tight end Ross Dwelley, was equally as boring.
Garoppolo seemed to showcase a case study of himself, too, during the game, frequently throwing high or behind his receiving targets, and his over-the-middle interception in the first quarter looked notably familiar of the many he’s thrown in a 49ers uniform, too.
So, it’s understandable why fans were wondering what was up when Lance came in to start the third quarter after halftime.
Trey Lance finally gets extended snaps for 49ers, still comes up short
The odd part of Lance being on the field to start the third quarter was he was out there for consecutive snaps, which has only happened sparingly this year during the regular season and never for a full series.
While some may have wondered if head coach Kyle Shanahan was trying to shake things up after a sluggish first half, news broke amid Lance’s opening third-quarter drive that Garoppolo had exited with a calf injury and was questionable to return.
On that first drive, Lance either ran designed-run plays or handed the ball off. But late in the third quarter, albeit on an underthrown pass, Lance found wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a 76-yard touchdown to bring the Niners a bit closer after they fell behind 21-7:
That could have potentially been a game-tying score. But San Francisco’s previous return attempt was fumbled (twice on the same play) by 49ers return specialist Trent Cannon.
Seattle recovered and scored immediately after scoring on the play before Cannon’s fumble.
And with Gould out, Wishnowsky failed to hit the extra-point attempt, making it 21-13 entering the fourth quarter. The Seahawks responded right back with a touchdown of their own anyway, making the prospects for a would-be Lance heroic comeback even more distant than they originally were.
Lance found Samuel again late in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard screen-pass touchdown, making things interesting by also rushing in a two-point conversion to close the gap. Yet it wasn’t enough.
49ers’ Trey Lance shows so-so effort in first extended on-field time
Not surprisingly, the bulk of Lance’s snaps in the second half were run plays, either designed for him or where he’d hand the ball off. And as far as throwing the ball, Lance’s line was 9-of-18 for 157 yards, the two touchdowns to Samuel against zero interceptions for a 117.1 passer rating, much of those numbers coming well after the outcome was already determined and not showing Lance’s difficulty with being decisive.
As was much of the case during the preseason, there were moments where the action seemed too fast for Lance. Receivers were, at times, open. Yet Lance either didn’t see them or couldn’t react quickly enough to take advantage.
Lance’s supporters, particularly those who think he should be starting now, would argue that experience will prove to be valuable in time. Others, meanwhile, probably will argue what Shanahan has likely argued up to this point: Lance isn’t ready.
It might not matter anyway.
Garoppolo’s injury, depending on the severity, might ultimately determine Lance’s immediate future and whether or not he’ll be starting in the Niners’ next game, Week 5 on the road against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals.
Hopefully, that’ll produce better results for both Lance and the entire team than what happened in Week 4.