Trey Lance's running threat 'just a bonus' in Kyle Shanahan's opinion

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Lance's running threat 'just a bonus' in Shanahan's opinion originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

One of the reasons the 49ers traded up to select Trey Lance at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, and ultimately turn the team over to him this summer, was because he brings a skillset to the table that now-backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo doesn't.

Lance's ability to run with the football adds a new element to the 49ers offense that coach Kyle Shanahan hopes will take the unit to a different level.

But just because Lance can use his legs as a weapon against opposing defense doesn't mean Shanahan will rely on it heavily as the second-year quarterback tries to find his footing in his first year as the unquestioned starter.

"When a quarterback is a threat to run, defenses have to change a little bit, what they do, at times depending on their natural scheme," Shanahan told Greg Papa on the latest episode of "49ers Gameplan," which debuted Friday night on NBC Sports Bay Area. "And if you have a sound eight-man front and things like that and you're not accounting for the quarterback and all of a sudden you have to, that changes what people do, which can make people a little more unsound.

"If they don't, you can make them pay. So it's fun to have that threat. But that threat is just a bonus. You've got to be able to do the rest of the stuff to make it really go. And that's the stuff we're going to get going with [Lance] and work him through and always try to keep that threat as much as we can."

Last season, Lance was on the field for 178 snaps over the course of six games. He attempted 71 passes and ran the ball 38 times. He accumulated 168 yards on the ground and rushed for one touchdown.

In limited action during the 2022 preseason, Lance ran one time for 7 yards in the exhibition opener against the Green Bay Packers, a play which he admitted he slid for the first time in his football career. After sitting out the second game against the Minnesota Vikings, Lance rushed once for 1 yard in the finale against the Houston Texans.

RELATED: How Papa wants Shanahan to use Lance

It remains to be seen how often Shanahan will call designed run plays for Lance, but the fact that defenses have to gameplan for that option is exactly who the North Dakota State product is in this position.

Lance is being entrusted with the keys to the 49ers' offense and his first true test comes Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in the 2022 season opener.

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