Shanahan on Lance's Readiness to Start

It's possible Lance will make his starting debut this Sunday.
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SANTA CLARA -- Jimmy Garoppolo has a calf strain and did not practice Wednesday, which means it's possible he will not play this Sunday, and Trey Lance will make his starting debut.

Here's what 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday about Lance's readiness to start, courtesy of the 49ers' P.R. department.

Q: Where is he in his development as far as being able to kind of run the offense with his own spin on it?

SHANAHAN: "He's developing. That's what you'll see when you get out to gameday. You got him a chance, so you just throw him in the summer where you're always adding some different plays in for him that you have an option to do with him. But throughout the summer, him trying to get everything, I thought he got better as it went. Then when he went into the games, that'd be a new learning process and I think he would get better each week in those games. I thought when he got thrown into battle here, just running the offense and not really his specific plays, I thought he got more comfortable as the game went. Especially going home and watching the tape after the game, I thought there was a lot of encouraging stuff. So, guys that are rookies, second-year players, it doesn't matter the position, you're always developing. You're always trying to get better and he'll see some things out there that he's never seen before, but what you like about him and stuff that he might not be ready for he can overcompensate with some of his athletic ability and, to me, how competitive he is and how good of a football player he is.”

Q: How was he on Sunday when it came to just the black and white of where the ball should go and did it go there?

SHANAHAN: "He did a decent job, but I don't think there should be any offenses where you don't know where the ball is supposed to go. That sounds great. And it's pretty good if it's on air or if it's seven-on-seven, but there's pass rushes involved, there's blitzes, there’s disguises, there's people that don't get open. So, you have to be able to see all that and understand if it's automatic, you should always hit the automatic plays. That means you have an offense that you know where the ball's supposed to go and what the play is for. How quickly do you recognize that it’s defended? How quickly can you get to two? How quickly can you recognize it's not the right look? It might be the perfect look, but you can't hang on the three-technique and you have to break. Do you go to number two and get rid of it or do you try to scramble right away? Those are all things that are options. They're not options for everybody, but those are things that are options for Trey and that's the stuff he’s working through.”

Q: I would assume with Jimmy, scramble or run is far, far down on the list of progressions. Do you bump that up with Trey and make it sometimes your second read or your third read?

“Yeah, but you never tell a guy, ‘Hey, if number one's not open you just stop and you run.’ If someone isn't capable of doing all that stuff, eventually you do tell someone something like that. But that's also pretty easy to stop too. There's a feel to that. Jimmy, it's not like he only runs when all five eligibles are covered. Sometimes he'll see a crease in the front and they're not holding the lanes too well in the pocket. And I think you guys see Jimmy a lot move the chains with his legs. So that's not the number one thing on his mind. I'm not trying to put in a lot of quarterback draws and things like that. But no matter what type of quarterback you are, you better be able to move the chains with your legs here and there.”

ME: As he’s learning to execute the offense, what can his improvisational ability do for him and for the offense?

SHANAHAN: “Anytime you can have a guy who can create an off-schedule play and bide more time, that's great. When you can run around when people are playing soft zones, those only can hold up so long. But that starts turning into a little bit of backyard ball. And when you get into some of those situations, sometimes it's late in games, you're down a lot and you can create and make some big plays. But it's got to be that type of game. You don't want to force that type of game and that’s stuff I think we'll get used to with Trey and he'll get used to with us.”

Q: What was his technique and footwork like in the Seahawks game? Did that kind of lapse a little bit with the excitement of the moment of him going in?

“For going in like that and that type of game and where we were at, I thought he did a lot better than he did in the preseason. He came in, I know he got off to a rough start with his first two passes, but he calmed down and played poised after that. Wasn't perfect, but you watch him, watch how he moved, how he attacked stuff, he wasn't locking up, he was playing football and still gave us a chance to win.”

Q: You talked about it a little with backyard football. Do you think there's a little bit of an adjustment for receivers just getting used to coming back to the ball when things break down?

“Yeah. You'd like to say that's how it always should be because you have off-schedule plays all the time. But anytime you have a guy who has a little different foot speed who’s a little bit more of a runner, it can buy a little bit extra time. And that's things guys have to keep working on and defenses have to get used to that too. And we'll see how it plays out, but I think the obvious thing is you know that's more of an option now.”

ME: Can you practice the off-schedule plays in practice?

“Yeah, you do. That's why you tell them when no one's there or when someone misses the protection, what are you going to do in the game? You don't just sit there and get hit. Do you get rid of it because number two is wide open? Or do you make a move to break outside the pocket? And once you do, and the receivers aren’t looking at you, they don't stop. There's no whistle that's being blown, so that's the stuff you keep working on. And you'd love to design some rules on scramble rules, but it's how did those five guys end up and where are they? And you’ve got to disperse the field.”