Shanahan believes in Lance, but the 49ers’ QB won’t “make or break” the season

Trey Lance has faith in Kyle Shanahan, but the San Francisco 49ers head coach doesn’t think his starting quarterback will “make or break” their 2022 season.

Lance will be the Niners starter in 2022, replacing Jimmy Garoppolo, who will likely be released once rosters are trimmed to 53 players if San Francisco doesn’t find a trade partner.

San Francisco reached Super Bowl LIV with Garoppolo as the starter in the 2019 campaign and narrowly lost last season’s NFC Championship Game with the former New England Patriot under center.

However, the Niners traded three first-round picks to move up to the third overall pick in the 2021 draft and select Lance from North Dakota State, believing he had the physical gifts and mental attributes to take their offense to the next level.

They will now see the judgment of Lance put to the test over a full season. Lance started two games in relief of an injured Garoppolo last year, and before that had just one full season of college football under his belt. That came in 2019 when he threw for 28 touchdowns and ran for another 14 without throwing a single interception as Lance led North Dakota State to an FCS National Championship.

That lack of seasoning makes Lance one of the biggest unknowns of the 2022 season, but head coach Shanahan doesn’t think his performance will be the deciding factor for an extremely well-rounded team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

“Is Trey ready to shoulder it?” Shanahan told Peter King’s Football Morning in America. “He shouldn’t be. He hasn’t been through enough.

“I believe in him as a man, as a person. I believe in his talent. I don’t think he’s going to make or break our season, just like in 2019 and last year, I didn’t think Jimmy was going to make or break our season .”

However, Shanahan suggested trying to deliver for a team under pressure to win a sixth Super Bowl title after coming agonizingly close in two of the last three seasons could negatively impact Lance.

“But what sucks is when you’re learning to play and you’re not there yet, how can you not get worse sometimes when the pressure is on you and you have to go through growing pains?” Shanahan added.

Lance went 1-1 as a starter last year, throwing for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in his short time on the field. He also ran for 168 yards and a touchdown.

According to Stats Perform data, Lance was the second most aggressive quarterback in the NFL when it came to pushing the ball downfield. Among quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts, only Drew Lock (10.20) had more yards than Lance (10.10).

Lance remained accurate despite regularly attempting low-percentage throws. No player averaging at least 9.0 yards had a better punt rate than Lance, who delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 77.1 percent of his attempts.

In his first preseason game of 2022, Lance played two offensive series, completing four of his five passes for 92 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown to rookie wide receiver Danny Gray in a 28-21 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Lance will participate in joint practices between the 49ers and Minnesota Vikings this week, but will not play in Saturday’s second preseason game.

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