49ers offensive line needs continuity with Trey Lance

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

One way or another, the 49ers need to support Trey Lance in his maturation to become a starter, and better play from the offensive line will be paramount.

Even though San Francisco 49ers head coach reiterated Jimmy Garoppolo will be the team’s starting quarterback in the wake of their 17-10 Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, which just so happened to be rookie signal-caller Trey Lance‘s first NFL start, Shanahan and the Niners will eventually need to put forth the best possible context for their high-profile NFL Draft investment.

Lance had his up-and-down moments getting the start in relief of an injured Garoppolo. And while Shanahan is voicing the desire to go back to the veteran from the rookie, he can’t avoid the reality his offense eventually needs to adjust to Lance.

In more ways than one.

One of those ways, of course, will be ensuring San Francisco’s offensive line is more adept to block in front of Lance, not just in pass protection but also in the run game, both in terms of Lance’s own handoffs to his crop of running backs and on the designed or improvised runs the mobile quarterback will often engineer.

Lance was under regular duress throughout Sunday’s contest, pressured 14 times but only sacked twice, which is a testament to him being able to get away from pressure.

Still, if Lance wasn’t as mobile as he is, the sack totals could have easily been much higher. And a lot of that has to focus on the O-line.

Yes, Trey Lance can make 49ers O-line’s life more challenging

It’s one thing to pass protect for a stand-in-the-pocket quarterback like Garoppolo. Without getting too complex here, Garoppolo is far more statue-like than Lance. Therefore, linemen in front of Jimmy G have a pretty good idea where he is within the pocket.

Lance, on the other hand, is a relative unknown. Especially if any element of the pass blocking breaks down.

This is all part of that chemistry development. And Lance will shoulder some of the responsibility, too, as he’ll have to acclimate to the understanding of where and how his blockers can protect him, what lanes could potentially open and so on. It’s not something that’ll happen immediately, although it surely could be delayed by Lance not getting adequate practice or game reps with the first-string unit.

Perhaps that’s something else Shanahan needs to install now moving forward regardless if Garoppolo continues to be the starter.

49ers O-line did Trey Lance few favors vs. Cardinals

It’s safe to say the 49ers O-line wasn’t at its A-game in Week 5 in Arizona. Granted, the Cardinals have a formidable defensive front, and let’s not take anything away from what defensive linemen J.J. Watt, Zach Allen and Chandler Jones are capable of doing.

That said, it’s easy to find a number of issues with the Niners upfront blockers.

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey was overworked by Allen on one of those two sacks Lance took, and McGlinchey regularly was outmatched by Watt, too, a matchup Arizona continued to exploit. McGlinchey allowed four pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, while right guard Daniel Brunskill allowed another two.

Related Story: Grading Trey Lance’s efforts from first NFL start

Not good.

Additionally, the O-line was called for five penalties, four of which were accepted, which didn’t exactly set Lance up for easy and makable plays thereafter.

“I don’t see why there’s any question on whether he’ll be fine or not,” left tackle Trent Williams said of Lance after the game. “We moved the ball up and down the field. He made some dynamic plays with his legs. He made some plays with his arm. We have to cut down on the penalties. We have to be better in situations. But I feel like Trey is going to be fine. There’s nothing I’ve seen that makes me think otherwise.”

Williams gets it. The rest of the O-line should, too, especially if they want to play their role in making Lance’s transition from a raw rookie to a quality starter that much easier.

Next. What worked, what didn't for Trey Lance in 49ers loss to Cardinals. dark