Trey Lance: Predicting what 49ers rookie will do vs. Texans

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

42. 49ers -12.5. 10. CBS. 8-7. 4:05 p.m. ET. 4-11. Sunday, Jan. 2

The 49ers seem poised to start Trey Lance on Sunday versus the Texans, and Niner Noise dishes out some predictions and expectations.

The San Francisco 49ers are going to stay quiet about things as long as they can with regards to who they’ll start under center in Week 17 versus the 4-11 Houston Texans: either quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or the No. 3 overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance.

Garoppolo, of course, is dealing with a UCL sprain in his throwing hand and has missed practice this week. There’s speculation, too, the injury might potentially be of the season-ending variety.

We might not know until game day.

If Garoppolo is out, it’ll be Lance’s second start at the NFL level.

Lance’s first start, way back in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, had some highs and lows. The rookie went 15-of-29 for 192 yards with an interception, also rushing 16 times for 89 yards and flashing the athleticism that could truly open up head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Nevertheless, it was a challenge. The Cardinals, undefeated at the time, were red hot. The Niners were shorthanded, too, in the middle of what turned into a four-game losing streak.

Against a hapless Texans squad ranking towards the very bottom in nearly every defensive category, Lance has a much better context surrounding him.

What’s working for Trey Lance, 49ers in Week 17 vs. Texans

There’s obviously the increased time Lance has had during practices in the weeks since Week 5, helping further his maturation process and acclimation to life at the NFL level. That’s a given.

San Francisco as a team, however, is much more complete entering Week 17 and also coming off a mini bye week after visiting the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in Week 16, meaning the extra rest and prep time should boost up Lance’s supporting cast in a big way.

That cast has seen some changes, too, namely tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel reemerging back as top-end offensive weapons. After a slow start to the year, fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk has also stepped up as a key contributor.

All helpful. But arguably an even better development is the probability rookie running back Elijah Mitchell might be able to return from the concussion and knee injuries that have held him out the last three weeks.

Nearly every rookie quarterback, particularly someone like Lance in a Shanahan offense, benefits from having a strong running game, opening up play-action passing and run-pass options to a much greater effect.

Predicting Trey Lance final stat line vs. Texans

As much fun as it would be to hype Lance up and suggest he goes off in a massive way, the colder reality is there’ll likely be some rookie-like moments sprinkled in with flashes of why the 49ers were so high on him in the first place.

Despite all their defensive deficiencies, the Texans do have 16 interceptions on the season, which is good for a tie for sixth most in the league entering Week 17.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see Lance throw another interception here, perhaps sailing a ball over the head of an intended target, which is also a common rookie-like mistake.

Read More: Trey Lance is in best possible situation to start vs. Texans

Still, Houston is allowing an average of 5.9 yards per play this season, tied for second worst in the league, meaning Lance and the rest of the Niners offense shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball.

So, how about that final stat line for Lance?

Let’s go ahead and make our prediction that Lance goes 18-of-27 for 240 yards with a passing touchdown against one interception, while mixing in his own rushing prowess to the tune of 65 yards with another touchdown on the ground.

Getting the win, too, by the way.

San Francisco and Houston kick off on Sunday, Jan. 2 at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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