This is it.
Sunday is the last stand for the 49ers to get into the playoffs.
Losing is not an option here, which creates an immense amount of pressure. Some players thrive on it, while others succumb to it. Rookies and other young inexperienced players are the most likely to get the jitters in these situations.
In this case, it could easily be Trey Lance.
While he hasn’t officially been named the starter, it is definitely something of concern to consider. This would be Lance’s third start of his career and it comes at a high stakes moment. A rookie quarterback in this situation could crumble and end up snowballing.
However, Lance is not worried about any nerves going into the 49ers’ critical matchup with the Rams.
“Yeah, the stakes were the same last week in my head and honestly in Arizona,” said Lance. “It’s really not like I try any harder or prepare harder or better just because this could be it. It's win or go home, but it really was the same exact stakes last week. So nothing really changes.”
Spoken like a true veteran.
Unfortunately, there is still a game to be played. All that talk is irrelevant. Everything changes once Lance steps onto that field and actually feels the moment. The margin for error is slim to none in this game. Knowing that a turnover or not sustaining drives could put them in a hole can freak him out. It wouldn’t be far fetched to see that out of Lance. He is a rookie after all and it would be understandable.
However, I think there’s a decent chance Lance is fine. Lance has shown in his small sample size that he doesn’t waver after mistakes. He didn’t show that in any of the games he has played in this season. Of course, the stakes do change against the Rams. But if Lance can keep a level head, then the 49ers will be in a good spot with him.
I also don’t believe there will be a chance for Lance to feel that immense pressure. The 49ers are going to run the football hardcore again while playing suffocating defense. All of this should do well to steady Lance and open up the offense for him. San Francisco should win this game with Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo.
The game plan doesn’t change. Run it down their throats and expose them for the soft team that they are. The Rams don’t have a bully bone in their bodies, so the 49ers should be able to control the game and win .
The only two instances I think Lance will surely look nervous is if he is tasked with leading a game-winning drive or if Trent Williams is out. That isn’t off the table at all. In fact, I think that is the likeliest outcome that the game comes down to the final drive. And with Williams, his status for Sunday is a toss up.
Either way, everything changes once the game gets going. But at least Lance has the right mindset going into it.