49ers vs. Cardinals: 5 Niners who help Trey Lance out the most
By Peter Panacy
49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance will get his first NFL start against the Cardinals in Week 5, and these five Niners will have to give him some support.
Perhaps San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t envision it this way: starting his rookie quarterback, Trey Lance, in a crucial NFC West matchup against the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals, in Week 5.
And on the road, too.
But it’s easy for plans to go awry, and that’s precisely what happened when the Niners lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a calf injury midway through their Week 4 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
With Garoppolo out and after Lance taking over the second half of last week’s game, the pressure is on for the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft to make a positive impression against a surprise Cardinals squad.
He can’t do it alone, though.
Lance will have to “get some help from his friends” in Week 5, and these five San Francisco players will have to play a big role in his starter’s debut.
No. 5: 49ers Wide Receiver Jauan Jennings
Second-year wide receiver Jauan Jennings hasn’t been much of an X-factor for the 49ers offense this season. But when he has played a role, he’s made a notable impact: three receptions on all three of his targets with one touchdown.
The expectation now is tight end George Kittle (calf) is doubtful to appear in Week 5, meaning Lance will lack the big-body target with plenty of physicality to overpower smaller defenders.
Jennings might not be the yards-after-catch monster, at least in terms of speed, Kittle is. But at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, Jennings is more than adept at breaking tackles and serving as a go-to target in the tight confined spaces within the red zone, an area where Lance hopes to see plenty of action at Arizona.
Even if Jennings helps Lance out by catching a pass or two, particularly in a key situation, that’ll be good enough to make the rookie look good without having to rely too much on his top-tier weapons.