How Kyle Shanahan wants Trey Lance to approach potential first NFL start

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How Shanahan wants Lance to approach potential first start originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

There were both positives and negatives from Trey Lance's first extended NFL action Sunday in the 49ers' 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium.

Lance missed some throws early and struggled to execute the game plan that was designed for Jimmy Garoppolo, who exited with a calf injury. But he also showcased his elite athleticism and high-octane arm that had coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch salivating to draft him at No. 3 overall.

While Garoppolo does have a chance to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Lance will prepare all week as if he will start the critical Week 5 matchup. How Lance approaches that preparation will be key to Shanahan.

“Every week you want to tell him to approach it like you're the starting quarterback," Shanahan told reporters Monday. "But this is the first week going into it that he's legitimately got up a chance to on the first play. So, he's got to approach it that way, learn from the stuff that he did last night, and come in ready to go on Wednesday.”

Shanahan applauded Lance for the plays he made with his legs but knows there were a number of throws the rookie signal-caller would like back. But to Shanahan, the most important part of going over the tape with Lance was finding out how the North Dakota State product felt commanding the huddle in his first true NFL action.

“There's stuff on every play that we talk about, but just in general, I was talking to him about how he felt in there," Shanahan said. "You always picture your first NFL game and when you got to go in there and I know he's been in for some plays, but not really to do every single play like that. And just getting in and out of the huddle, being with the guys, I think he enjoyed the moment. I thought he did a good job making some plays, especially when some weren't there with his feet.

"A couple of passes I know he'd like to have back, but it was really just getting that experience and talking to him about how it was and all the things that can happen on each one of those plays and how it pertains to the next week too.”

Should the 49ers have to turn to Lance on Sunday, Shanahan is confident his rookie QB will be ready

“Yeah, when he comes in and gets the game plan on Wednesday, he'll prepare all week really hard for it, and he'll practice really hard and he'll be prepared to play on Sunday," Shanahan said.

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It's unfair to judge Lance off how he played running the Garoppolo game plan. If the rookie is asked to start Sunday against the Cardinals, the 49ers' offense surely will be pared-down and tailored to what the rookie does well.

However, expectations for Lance should be tempered. Rookie quarterbacks, even those with a great play-caller, almost always struggle during their first NFL season and based on his play vs. the Seahawks, it's clear Lance still is quite raw and needs to work on his release time, accuracy, touch and field vision.

Lance is incredibly talented and will undoubtedly have a number of moments that highlight why Shanahan and Lynch chose him to be the future of their franchise.

But building an NFL quarterback often takes time, and for Lance, that starts with his preparation for what could be his first NFL start.

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