Head coach Kyle Shanahan went on KNBR in San Francisco on Friday and was asked why he still won't play 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance. Here's what Shanahan said.
Q: I'm old enough to remember when Steve DeBerg in 1980 would sometimes come off the field for Joe Montana to give him occasional series. It was the way Bill Walsh eased Joe Montana in. Is that something that could be done here? Have you given any thought to giving Lance occasional series so he can get some experience?
SHANAHAN: "Yeah, if it makes sense in the game plan. I don't know exactly what Bill's plan was back then or exactly how those series went or how often he did it, but you do what ever is good for the football team, and what's good for the quarterback. You don't just sit here and treat it like, 'Hey, let's make sure we get him a series sometime in the second quarter so he can get that experience and continue to develop.' That's just not how you make decisions."
MY TAKE: Shanahan doesn't know the first thing about making decisions, which explains why he's not preparing Trey Lance to take over as the starting quarterback, when Walsh did exactly that for Montana in 1980. Montana started seven games that season. Lance has started just one so far, and he's supposed to take over full time next season.
MORE SHANAHAN: "I want Trey to get ready. Trey's going to be the guy of our future and I think and I think Trey is going to be a very good quarterback here for a long time. That's why we drafted him. That's why we made those moves. I'm as eager for that as everyone else. There's no hidden agenda here to not play the guy that we committed a ton to, but my biggest commitment, no matter what the pressure is, no matter what anyone says is that we're going to do it when it's right for Trey and when it's right for our team. And we don't think it's that moment yet. Could be very soon."
MY TAKE: Shanahan is trying to sound enthusiastic about Lance, but isn't changing his tune about when Lance will play. Shanahan said this week that Lance will not start until the 49ers are out of the playoff race. So sure, the 49ers could get eliminated soon, in which case Lance would take over. But there's also a good chance they won't get eliminated soon, and Lance will continue not to play.
MORE SHANAHAN: "I always have a package in for him, not just to get him experience, but because I think it's effective to have an option at quarterback who brings a different skillset. But I also think I liked what Trey did versus Arizona. There were some things he didn't do great, but he showed out there that he can play this game. It's not too big for him. There was a great chance he was going to start the next week versus Indy with Jimmy not fully healthy, but Trey had a setback in that injury, so it set him back a couple weeks and that doesn't mean you get two weeks off and you're right back to, 'Hey, let's get him a series.' No, he was making progress. That slowed him down a little bit."
MY TAKE: Maybe if Shanahan hadn't used Lance as a battering ram between the tackles against Arizona, he wouldn't have gotten injured. Shanahan turned Lance into a running back and rarely let him hand off.
MORE SHANAHAN: "He has gotten two weeks. This is his second week of practice right now and he's getting right back to where he left off for Arizona. And it's very important to me, the staff and him how much work we put into him that he's getting better every single day because when his time does come, whether it's this week, whether it's next week, whether it's if we get eliminated from the playoffs, whenever it is, I want to make sure he's the most ready possible for himself and for the team."
MY TAKE: Shanahan's ability to judge readiness is subpar. In 2017, when the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan wanted him to sit on the bench all season and learn his playbook. Shanahan didn't think Garoppolo was ready. But an injury to C.J. Beathard forced Garoppolo into action, and he won five straight starts. He was ready. Shanahan was wrong. Which means he could be wrong again. He should play Lance and find out.
Listen to the full interview here: