49ers offensive change No. 2: Trey Lance allows for more off-script plays
Some of the changes San Francisco’s offense will undergo may not be planned at all.
No, they may be improvised.
Kyle Shanahan learned this lesson the hard way, having lost to improvising-type quarterbacks like the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen and then-Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson over the years.
While Jimmy Garoppolo does have a lot of positive traits, particularly the ability to get the ball out quickly, improvising when plays break down or the pocket begins collapsing isn’t his strong suit. And while Trey Lance initially struggled when pressured during his initial snaps at the NFL level, both in the preseason and regular season, that one start against the Texans revealed some notable promise.
Take a look at this play, courtesy of Football Outsiders’ Derrik Klassen, where Lance is flushed out of the pocket but is still able to make something out of nothing:
Garoppolo might have gotten his proverbial “happy feet” in that situation, throwing a ball into the ground close to a nearby receiver. But he wouldn’t have evaded the pressure, and the play certainly wouldn’t have gone for a gain.
With Lance, though, the ability to extend plays when they break down, improvising all the way, is going to be much more prevalent.
That’s one of the many elements that have made quarterbacks like Mahomes, Allen and Wilson great.