49ers' Kyle Shanahan faces Trey Lance dilemma in NFL preseason

·2 min read

Why Shanahan faces preseason dilemma with 49ers QB Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

On Trey Lance’s first snap of his second series with the 49ers last summer, coach Kyle Shanahan dialed up the kind of play that is not often seen in the preseason.

Lance faked a handoff to running back Trey Sermon and continued on a bootleg to the left. Lance stopped, turned his body, set his feet and fired deep down the right side of the field to wide receiver Trent Sherfield.

The resulting 80-yard touchdown pass might have been the only memorable thing that happened last year from any of the 49ers’ three exhibition games.

It provided a sudden jolt for the 49ers’ fan base and delivered some promise of the future for a player the 49ers invested so much to acquire.

Now, Lance enters his first season as the 49ers’ starter while Jimmy Garoppolo remains in limbo with his football future completely unsettled.

And while Shanahan does not want to waste any plays or concepts that can be unveiled during the regular season, he also wants to give Lance an opportunity to enjoy some success before the real games begin.

The 49ers open the preseason against the Green Bay Packers on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium. Lance is likely to play a series or two.

Next week, Lance will take part in two joint practices against the Minnesota Vikings. Although he figures to have a large group of supporters attending next Saturday’s game from his hometown of Marshall, Minn., Lance is not scheduled to play in the game.

The statistics Lance puts up in the preseason games might not mean much. In the end, that is about as meaningless as the numbers derived from his pass attempts on the practice field.

But things would probably be a lot more smooth for all involved if Lance experiences more good moments than bad in the tuneup games leading to the 49ers’ season opener on Sept. 11 against the Chicago Bears.

Lance’s under-50-percent completion percentage during practices can easily be explained. The 49ers do not game plan against their own defense in practices, and Shanahan does not set up play calls.

In the preseason, the 49ers do very little game-planning, either.

But just to make sure Lance gains some confidence and generates some excitement, Shanahan should be inclined to come up with creative ways to put his young quarterback in a position to make a big play or two.

RELATED: 49ers coordinator explains what coaches emphasize to Lance

Of course, that's a line for Shanahan to figure out how to walk: Show just enough to gain some confidence while holding back the good stuff for the regular season.

That’s the biggest dilemma Shanahan will face in the two preseason games in which Lance takes the field this summer.

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