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Shanahan Explains Why He Didn't Play Lance Sooner Against Jacksonville

When the 49ers entered the fourth quarter up 27-3 against the Jaguars this past Sunday, it was reasonable to expect Kyle Shanahan to play Lance for most of the fourth quarter, because he's the future of the franchise.
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Jimmy Garoppolo used to play in blowouts all the time when he was Tom Brady's backup in New England.

The Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014 to be Brady's heir apparent and the future of their franchise. Sound familiar? Of course, the Patriots eventually traded Garoppolo to the 49ers in 2017, but for three and a half seasons Garoppolo was getting the Trey Lance treatment on the Patriots. Meaning they were grooming him slowly in practice to become a starting quarterback.

But Bill Belichick frequently played Garoppolo at the end of blowouts just so he could get a feel for being in the huddle, calling the plays, making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, etc. Most of the time, Garoppolo didn't even pass -- he merely handed off. Still, Belichick, the greatest head coach of his era, saw value in playing Garoppolo at the end of blowouts, and that's why Garoppolo apeared in 17 games with the Patriots, even though started only two.

So when the 49ers entered the fourth quarter up 27-3 against the Jaguars this past Sunday, it was reasonable to expect Kyle Shanahan to play Lance for most of the fourth quarter, because he's the future of the franchise. Belichick would have played Lance. But Shanahan didn't play him until the final series of the game when there were only three minutes left. Strange.

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On Monday, I asked Shanahan on a conference call about this decision. Here's my question and his answer.

ME: You brought in QB Trey Lance for the final series for obvious reasons. Did you give any thought to bringing him in a series or two before just to get Jimmy out of there and give Trey Lance a little bit more of that game-time experience you say he needs?

SHANAHAN: “No, I didn’t. I don't think about one person in those situations. I think about our whole team. I'm not just playing one person for his own experience. I try to make a decision on what's best for the team and how to win that day. And I think it was a three-score game until I did take everybody out, not just Trey. Once we kicked that field goal, I think it was when we got 30 and at least made it four scores. Then I did it first on all the defensive guys and they went on a long drive, which I think went from like six minutes to three minutes. But then I did it on all the offensive guys too.”

You can hear the full interview below.