SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It is occurring prior to the San Francisco 49ers or starter Jimmy Garoppolo hoped, however rookie quarterback Trey Lance will make his first begin Sunday.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan made it official Friday after every week through which all indicators pointed to that conclusion. Garoppolo is coping with a strained and bruised proper calf and wasn’t capable of apply, which leaves the door open for Lance, the No. 3 choose total out of North Dakota State.
And with that opening come loads of questions, not solely about what is going to occur in opposition to the undefeated Arizona Cardinals Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox), but in addition what Lance’s debut may imply for the place for the remainder of the season and past.
What can we anticipate from Lance in opposition to the Cardinals?
That Lance acquired prolonged motion final week in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks ought to make him extra snug than if he was getting that likelihood for the primary time in Arizona. Lance performed all the second half in opposition to Seattle, going 9-of-18 for 157 yards with two touchdowns and speeding seven occasions for 41 yards.
There have been loads of bumps alongside the best way, however Lance additionally appeared to get higher as the sport went on. Having an entire week to organize with a sport plan tailor-made to his talent set must also assist him after he entered final week’s sport on brief discover.
Which means extra designed quarterback runs, loads of read-options and alternatives to make performs outdoors the pocket. Lance’s capability to run additionally might imply extra off-schedule performs, one thing the Niners practiced in the course of the week in anticipation of Lance beginning.
“I really feel very ready,” Lance stated. “I actually do. That is a credit score to the teaching employees and the blokes round me. These guys have made me really feel very assured this week and I really feel assured in myself.”
How troublesome will Lance’s first begin be?
There’s not essentially ever a great time for a rookie quarterback to make his first begin, however Lance is not precisely strolling into the perfect state of affairs. In touring to play the 4-0 Cardinals, Lance is trying to change into the second quarterback drafted within the first spherical of the Tremendous Bowl period to beat a group with a report of 4-0 or higher in his first begin. Phil Simms is the one one to do it, and that was in 1979.
As well as, Lance is prone to be lacking some key items within the offense. Already with out beginning operating again Raheem Mostert for the remainder of the season due to a knee damage, the Niners additionally is likely to be with out tight finish George Kittle. Like Garoppolo, Kittle is coping with a calf damage and didn’t apply all week. He is listed as uncertain for Sunday.
All of that for a quarterback who can be 21 years and 154 days previous on Sunday, the fourth youngest a quarterback has been on the time of his first begin.
Regardless of that, the 49ers imagine Lance will not be overwhelmed by the second.
“He truly has like a assured aura round him the place you simply begin to imagine in him the extra you’re round him,” left sort out Trent Williams stated.
What would it not take for Lance to make the job his completely?
Shanahan was requested Friday if naming Lance the starter was an “anointment” and Lance could be the starter from right here on out.
“Our beginning quarterback is harm,” Shanahan stated. “If he’d have been 100% right now, we might have gone with him.”
In different phrases, the expectation is the job can be Garoppolo’s when he returns from damage. However it’s not inconceivable that Lance might do one thing to vary that. Usually, gamers do not lose their jobs to damage, but it surely’s not arduous to ascertain it occurring in a state of affairs the place the alternative stepping in was drafted to take over in some unspecified time in the future.
In reality, you do not have to dig too far into 49ers historical past to search out an instance of it. In 2012, Alex Smith was within the midst of his finest NFL season when he suffered a concussion in Week 10 in opposition to the Rams. Colin Kaepernick, who was in his second season, began instead of Smith the next week in opposition to the Bears and went 16-of-23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-7 win. Smith by no means acquired the job again.
To say Lance wants to achieve sure statistical benchmarks to do the identical does not permit for crucial nuance, but when he has an identical kind of efficiency and the 49ers get a much-needed NFC West Division win in opposition to an undefeated opponent on the street, it could power Shanahan and his employees to take an extended have a look at their quarterback state of affairs throughout subsequent week’s bye.