In the first few weeks of the season, the 49ers used some different packages to get No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance on the field, particularly when the offense was close to the goal-line.
But since returning from the knee injury suffered in his first start against the Cardinals back on Oct. 10, Lance has solely been on clipboard duty as a backup. He’s only seen the field for the last five snaps of San Francisco’s 30-10 blowout victory over Jacksonville in Week 11.
Why the change? Head coach Kyle Shanahan said it has to do with his play-calling.
“It’s more about me, to tell you the truth,” Shanahan said Monday, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBCSportsBayArea.com. “In terms of calling plays, we get into a rhythm of attacking a defense and what fronts they are playing and what coverages. Every play kind of plays off the next play and you get a feel, our players do and I, of what we are going to.”
Shanahan added that bringing in Lance also makes defenses less predictable because of how they adjust to a different QB.
“What’s been hard on me, that I didn’t realize, is when you do bring in a different quarterback who gets a different set of plays, it’s almost the first play I’ve been seeing of a new defense,” Shanahan said. “You see what fronts and coverages they are doing but they are doing it completely to a plan as a threat of the runner at that position.
“I don’t know what to anticipate with it, and then I got to stay in it for a while to get a feel for that. And then you go back and that feels kind of off for the last guy, so it kind of hurts my rhythm a little bit of understanding what a defense is getting. That’s why personally as the year has gone I’ve gotten a little more away from it because I like to get a feel for what the defense is doing.”
The 49ers have won their last three games and four of their last five to get to 6-5. With the offense rolling with Jimmy Garoppolo, it seems like there’s little reason to change things up by inserting Lance.
Still, the 49ers traded up to draft Lance for a reason. Sooner or later — and right now it seems like later — lance will get more opportunities to show what he can do.