Trey Lance found his footing

Casey Sully

It didn’t start very well, but the 49ers’ first round pick found his groove and led San Francisco to a 23-7 win over the Houston Texans. The offense as a whole struggled early on with numerous mental mistakes and an over-reliance on using Trey Lance’s legs as the base of the offense. Through the air, though, Lance was solid — going 10/13 for 103 yards in the first half with one interception.

That interception typified what Lance still needs to work on — layering the ball. He has the arm strength, now he needs to be more consistent in taking heat off the ball. Getting the ball up and down with pace and touch is one of the hardest things for rookie quarterbacks to do. That’s especially true because of the increase in the speed of the game.

Lance has promise, but it does seem clear why Shanahan has leaned on Jimmy G as the starter. San Francisco finally broke through in the second half when they started to get to more of their base offense. For whatever reason, Shanahan seems intent on emphasizing Trey Lance’s legs instead of letting him use his ability to run while still running his system. Playing within Shanahan’s system was perfectly illustrated on the deep touchdown to Deebo Samuel. It was one of Shanahan’s favorite counter plays off of their boot action. The base concept for Shanahan’s play-action is the Sail concept with three players at three different levels on the same side of the field. That stresses the defensive zones and usually allows a player to be open. Once he’s shown that look, he will exploit the flow of the defense and bend one of those routes back across the field to create an explosive play.

The 49ers are now set up for a Week 18 matchup against the Rams that will determine their playoff fate. If the 49ers win, they’re in as the six seed in the NFC. However, if the San Francisco doesn’t beat the Rams and the Saints are able to beat the Falcons, San Francisco would be on the outside looking in. Depending on how the Cardinals do, Los Angeles could need a win to secure the division title. The stage is set for a win-and-in scenario for either Trey Lance of Jimmy G.

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