Trey Lance in best situation possible to start vs. Texans
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers will likely have to rely on rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who effectively has nothing to lose in what’ll be the second start of his NFL career against the Texans.
San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance‘s first ever NFL start wasn’t exactly in the most ideal of situations.
In Week 5, the Niners were facing off against what was then a red-hot Arizona Cardinals squad, on the road and in the wake of San Francisco’s starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, suffering a calf injury.
Heading into Week 17’s matchup against the Houston Texans, the only thing that’s changed is Garoppolo is now dealing with an injury to his throwing hand.
A much better situation for Lance, even though the 49ers’ playoff future is definitely on the line.
Trey Lance shouldn’t see Texans as a major threat
Despite Houston’s shocking 41-29 Week 16 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s not as if we’re talking about a highly competitive opponent for Lance in a pressure-packed situation while being on the road. The Texans are horrible, boasting the NFL’s fourth-worst scoring defense and allowing an average of 6.9 yards per pass play, fifth worst.
And as far as Lance’s tendency to scramble for additional yards, Houston is giving up an average of 4.7 yards per rush attempt, 27th in the league entering Week 17, meaning the rookie can be aided by both his own legs and those of his running backs.
A balanced Niners offense is precisely what Lance will need to avoid having too much pressure placed upon his shoulders.
And despite Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills flashing some modest promise against the Bolts last weekend, Houston still owns the league’s third-worst scoring offense, too, so this won’t be the case where Lance has to carry the entire offense, especially from behind.
Even if 49ers lose to Texans, Trey Lance is in a win-win situation
The oddsmakers over at WynnBET list San Francisco as 12.5-point favorites even after news of Garoppolo likely being out for this game, potentially longer.
If the 49ers win this game despite Lance, assuming he plays poorly, the narrative will merely focus on it being his second-ever start at the NFL level, only prompting a notion that’s already been discussed ever since Week 5: Lance needs to play more. If the 49ers win and Lance plays well, there may be some who say, “it was against the Texans,” but playing well is precisely what Lance needed to do anyway.
Mission accomplished on that front.
Read More: 49ers must let ‘Trey Lance show’ begin in earnest vs. Texans
Things only get tricky if the Niners lose, though, but even that isn’t going to prompt disastrous analysis on Lance, save for a completely disastrous outing from him where he tosses four interceptions or something of the like.
Even then, the criticisms would almost entirely focus on that same narrative of Lance needing more experience, and it would center more on head coach Kyle Shanahan than anyone else for sticking with Garoppolo almost exclusively over the second half of the season.
More importantly, even if San Francisco loses to Houston, that valuable prep time of Lance getting in meaningful work before he’s likely fully handed the reins in 2022 would mean whatever happens in Week 17 wouldn’t be a wasted effort.
It’s impossible for him to lose the situation.