49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance hasn’t played any meaningful offensive snaps since his start in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo back in Week Five. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week that has more to do with his rhythm as a play-caller than what Lance has or hasn’t done.
But whatever the reason, the strategy has worked in the last few weeks. The 49ers have won each of their last three games and four of their last five to improve to 6-5. Entering Week 13, they’re the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Still, developing Lance is paramount for the team’s long-term future. This week, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said he’s seeing progress from the young quarterback as he runs the scout-team offense, pretending to be San Francisco’s weekly opponent.
“Each and every day, he’s presented with different challenges and is forced to operate within the pocket in different ways,” McDaniel said, via 49ersWebZone.com. “He sees our coverages and has to execute various plays that overlap with our offense. So there is growth each and every week because you’re getting to experience things. You get to have trials, errors. It’s all about reps, and each week is very important for him on the scout team preparing our defense as well as preparing himself.”
“It is cool for him to find himself as a player when you’re back-to-back weeks are Kirk Cousins, where you’re primarily emphasizing pocket passing, and then our defense has to be ready for off-schedules,” McDaniel said. “I’m not sure there’s a quarterback that’s done it better in this league than Russell Wilson. It is beneficial to have that variance because whatever you’re emphasizing, you get reps at that component of your game. So having them back-to-back weeks has been great for him.”
It’s unclear when Lance will get another shot to be San Francisco’s starter. But given what the 49ers gave up to draft him, they need Lance to develop into their long-term solution — whether or not it comes from his scout-team work.