SANTA CLARA -- I recently laid out the potential benefits of the 49ers starting an injured Jimmy Garoppolo this Sunday against the Rams. So in the interest of fair and balanced coverage, here are the potential benefits of the 49ers starting Trey Lance.
1. Lance provides the element of surprise. The Rams never have beaten Garoppolo, but know exactly what to expect from him, especially now that he’s injured. With Lance, the Rams will have to guess, because their scouting report of him must be tiny. They can't have a book on Kyle Shanahan's play-calling tendencies with Lance, because Shanahan still is figuring out how he wants to call games with him.
2. Lance enhances the 49ers run game, because he participates in it. And the 49ers will need run-game enhancements, because starting running back Elijah Mitchell reinjured his knee against the Houston Texans. When the 49ers beat the Rams earlier this season, Mitchell ran 27 times.
3. Lance gives the 49ers offense quick-strike ability with the deep pass that Garoppolo physically cannot throw because of his injured thumb. So while Garoppolo can lead long, slow, methodical drives, Lance can score in an instant.
4. Lance is the hot hand. He's coming off a terrific start against the Texans during which he improved as the game went on. As opposed to Garoppolo, who was awful in Tennessee even before he injured his thumb. He was the worst player on the 49ers offense in that game and the primary reason the team lost. And he hasn't had a full practice since that game. He's probably rusty.
5. Lance is healthy. Garoppolo isn't. The last time Garoppolo started a game coming off an injury, he threw two interceptions and lost by 12 at home to the Colts. That was earlier this season.
That means Lance gives the 49ers the best chance to win.
That's the main reason to start him against the Rams.