Trey Lance's Second Start

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  • San Francisco 49ers
    San Francisco 49ers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Trey Lance
    Trey Lance
    American football player
  • Antonio Brown
    Antonio Brown
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Jimmy Garoppolo
    Jimmy Garoppolo
    American football player
  • Deebo Samuel
    Deebo Samuel
    American-football player (1996-)



Kyle Shanahan’s life was flashing before his eyes at halftime at Levi’s Stadium. Not only was the handpicked quarterback he traded up to draft at No. 3 overall having another red-flag filled start, the Niners were in danger of losing to the Texans and playing themselves out of the postseason.

Then … progress. Both of Trey Lance’s scores and 58 percent of his passing yardage came after the break as the Niners turned a 7-3 deficit into a 23-7 victory. Lance finally made some big plays with his arm, and the Niners gave themselves a fighting chance at surviving and advancing to the Wild Card Round.

Not that Lance created a quarterback controversy. The rookie still left yardage on the field with inaccurate throws, almost including his 45-yard touchdown strike to Deebo Samuel. The designed cross-field pass was left well short. Samuel is simply so good he tracked it down and housed it.

Shanny claimed during the week Lance has made progress. That seemed true. He also said Jimmy Garoppolo would remain the team’s starter for Week 18 against the Rams if his thumb is healthy enough. That was plain for all to see.

Lance’s moment is coming soon, probably Week 1 2022. Garoppolo’s gets to linger just a little bit longer. To win the next half decade, Lance is the answer. To win Sunday, it has to be Jimmy G.

Five Week 17 Storylines

We can’t get inside the mind of Antonio Brown. Only his Uber. AB’s car ride to the airport was probably the least wild part of his past four years. From 2013-17, Brown caught 582 passes for 7,848 yards and 52 touchdowns. The best five-year stretch of Jerry Rice’s career was 524/7,305/61. Not that Brown was a half-decade wonder. He was one of the five best players at any position for the better part of a decade. Then 2018 happened. To quote my Sunday blurb: Brown’s MetLife meltdown was the logical conclusion to a Bucs tenure — and almost certainly NFL career — that saw him coddled at every turn. The Bucs openly admitted that keeping Brown after his vaccine card fiasco was a cynical ploy at winning. They got what they paid for in a player who has now flamed out with four different organizations. Brown’s second, third and fourth chances were a testament to his inner-ring HOF abilities. Sunday’s post-game insta-cut from Bruce Arians was the sound of the door slamming shut. There’s not another Tom Brady to serve as Brown’s protector, and there will never be another Antonio Brown.

Ja’Marr Chase explodes minds and the record book against the Chiefs. Mac Jones’ team put up 50 points on Sunday. It was still Chase putting the biggest move on the OROY trophy, posting a jaw-dropping 44.6 PPR points in the final week of the fantasy season with his 11/266/3 line against the Chiefs. Chase’s 266 yards were the most ever by a rookie, while the 200-yard effort was just the 17th all time by a first-year pro. Chase is the only rookie receiver in NFL history to have two 200-yard games in one season. The league leader in yards per catch at 18.3, Chase is rapidly emerging as the most dangerous down-field threat since Randy Moss. Lined up alongside Tee Higgins — and the defensive attention he commands — Chase will be in line to do even more historic things in 2022.

The Rashaad Penny Rolling Thunder Revue claims the Lions. Penny’s 25 carries for 170 yards and two touchdowns represented his third new career high in four weeks. It was also the fifth most by any runner all season, with only Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook clocking bigger days. It took three years and countless injuries, but Penny is finally resembling the back he was billed as coming out of San Diego State. Penny’s breakout could not have come at a more uncertain time, as both Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson’s Seattle futures are unclear. Penny himself, of course, is headed to free agency after the Seahawks understandably declined his fifth-year team option last spring. I wrote last week that Penny was probably to the point where he would have some guaranteed money thrown his way in free agency. That has become a when, not an if.

Michael Gallup suffers season — and Cowboy? — ending knee injury. Gallup’s ailment is in the cruelest class football has to offer: A torn ACL three months before free agency. A former third-rounder who was finally ready to escape Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb’s shadow will likely be limited to one-year, prove-it offers on the open market, and be subjected to the toxic mix of rehab and trying to learn a new system. Unless, of course, the Cowboys bring him back, which has now become a much more realistic scenario. If the thesis of your Dynasty league play had been waiting for Gallup to get a shot as a No. 1, that is officially out the window. The best he can likely hope for is a return to his early-career No. 2 days where he posted between 800-1,100 yards.

Amon-Ra St. Brown stays balling with Tim Boyle. You might be a future star if you have caught 17 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns across two games with Tim Boyle. What should have been the end of St. Brown’s season — Jared Goff’s injury — was instead a speed bump. But therein lies another clue. The only reason producing huge numbers with Goff doesn’t appear remarkable is because St. Brown was doing it with Boyle. Doing it with a Sean McVay-less Goff isn’t exactly easy, either. The lone Lion for whom opposing defensive coordinators have had to game plan for over the past month, St. Brown is rising above his circumstances in a way few rookies do. It might be difficult to take the next step with what will remain a talent-bereft offense in 2022, but St. Brown is a player who matters, both in fantasy and real life.

Don't forget, for the latest on everything NFL, check out NBC Sports EDGE’s Player News, or follow @NBCSEdgeFB or @RotoPat on Twitter.

Questions

1. How were the Jets not the team with the mid-game retirement?

2. How were the Jets not the team running secret CIA experiments with Mike Glennon?

3. How were the Jets not the team losing 50-10 to the Patriots in Week 17?

Stats of the Week

Cooper Kupp’s 1,829 receiving yards are the fifth most all time.

Kyle Pitts’ 1,018 yards are the most by a rookie tight end since Mike Ditka’s 1,076 in 1961. Battling a hamstring injury, Pitts might not get to break the record in Week 18. You could argue that’s a “ball don’t lie” with the 17-game season, but Pitts already has two extra games on Ditka. The ball lied long ago.

The Packers are now 39-9 through Matt LaFleur's first three seasons after going 23-24-1 Mike McCarthy's final three years in Green Bay. They are the first team in league history to win 13-plus games three straight seasons.

Along those same lines, Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner has this nugget on Aaron Rodgers: In Rodgers’ last season with McCarthy, “20.9 percent of his dropbacks resulted in either a sack, scramble, or throwaway, the highest figure of his career This year, that number is 12.8 percent, the lowest figure of his career.”

Jordan Raanan has the Giants/Mike Glennon dope: “The Giants had -10 net yards passing vs Bears. It is the lowest by any team since the 1998 Chargers, when Ryan Leaf went 1-of-15 for four yards and lost 23 yards on sacks in the game.”

Via Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo: NFL interception leader Trevon Diggs has also surrendered “over 1,000 yards into his coverage this season, most in the league.”

Awards Section

Week 17 Fantasy All-Pro Team: QB Joe Burrow, RB Rashaad Penny, RB Darrel Williams, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR DK Metcalf, TE Noah Fant

Tweet of the Week, from Arif Hasan: Amazing that Mannion can make every pass look like he's throwing into heavy wind regardless of the direction he's actually throwing.

Tweet of the Week II, from Hayden Winks: Matthew Stafford loves to set up his fantasy day with an early pick six.

Fed Up Tweet of the Week, from Big Blue View: And another strip sack with Mike Glennon standing cluelessly in the pocket like he has no idea there are pass rushers on the other team.

Quote of the Week, from Mike Zimmer on if he’s interested in seeing Kellen Mond play in Week 18: “Not particularly.” Tough but fair.

Lie of the Week: Joe Judge claiming he is being bombarded by phone calls from former Giants who wish they were still in East Rutherford. Contrary to popular belief, it is still a lie even if you believe it.

Trending Topic of the Week: #FireMattRhule, as it is every week.

The When Nate Sudfeld Dies For Your Sins Award: The Eagles making the playoffs.