49ers overreactions: What to make of Lance's designed runs


The bye week came at the perfect time for the 49ers.

We hear that every year, don’t we?

And while there are quite a few players who need a break to get their bodies right, there is one aspect of the week off right now that cannot be good for the psyche of the team:

When the 49ers return to action for their Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football, it will have been five weeks since they last experienced a victory.

It’s been so long that they may have forgotten what it’s like to win a game, and that’s not a good thing.

And, with that, we dive into this week’s edition of 49ers Overreactions . . . 

Overreaction? No comment.

Hey, pal, I do the jokes around these parts.

Wait. What? That wasn’t a joke? Oh, well.

Onward ...

Overreaction? No.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did what he thought was necessary to win the game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Obviously, he does not believe Trey Lance is ready as a pocket passer, and the play-calling reflected that. There were nine designed quarterback runs as part of Lance’s total of 16 rushing attempts.

Here is the breakdown of Lance’s rushing attempts:

Designed runs — Nine for 38 yards

Read option — Three for 6 yards

Scrambles — Four for 45 yards

It looked to me that Shanahan approached this game with the feeling that Lance is the backup quarterback and they would lean on his best attributes at this stage of his career. They took a win-at-all-cost approach.

The idea was to get the most out of Lance in that game, then go back to Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter.

The result was that Lance was subjected to a lot of hits -- certainly more than you'd ever want your quarterback to absorb.

The biggest collision was on an attempted scramble that did not officially count as a run attempt. It was on the fourth-down play where Lance crashed into cinder blocks at the goal line. The record books describe that as a sack for zero yards.

After the game, Lance said he felt fine. But Sunday night, he began feeling discomfort in his knee. It got worse overnight and he called a member of the 49ers’ athletic training staff on Monday morning. A mild sprain of his left knee was revealed with an MRI. His status for the Week 7 game is up in the air.

What is not up in the air is the identity of the starting quarterback when the team returns from the bye: Shanahan is going with Garoppolo.

Overreaction? No.

Starter Elijah Mitchell carried nine times for 43 yards. Trey Sermon played just two snaps and gained 7 yards on one rushing attempt.

Shanahan might have wanted to protect Mitchell, who was returning to action after missing two games with a shoulder injury. And he does not have a lot of confidence in Sermon right now, despite the noticeable improvements he made from the Green Bay game to the next week against Seattle.

I agree with you: The 49ers should have used the rookie running backs to carry the ball more than the rookie quarterback.

Overreaction? No.

Three losing seasons in four years is not good enough ... obviously.

And this year, winning two out of five games is not good enough ... obviously.

But that does not mean that any head-coaching move will be considered any time soon if this season continues down this path. Generally, moves at head coach are not made based solely on the team’s record. Coaching changes are made when ownership and management have no faith the coach has the ability to get things figured out.

Changes usually occur when there is a large amount of dysfunction within the organization or the head coach has lost control.

The 49ers are not there.

Overreaction? Yes.

The 49ers have 12 games remaining. There is a lot of football to be played.

I would not say the 49ers have been outclassed in any of their three consecutive losses to Green Bay, Seattle and Arizona. 

They are one game behind in the wild-card race. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe they can finish in the top-two among Chicago, Carolina, New Orleans, Washington, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Seattle.

I don’t believe the 49ers have much of a chance at the NFC West title, having fallen three games behind the 5-0 Arizona Cardinals.

They need to win games. That’s all that matters. So while they are on the outside looking in at this point, their season is not lost.

Overreaction? Let’s check the chart.

If Gabe Kapler were coaching, Brandon Aiyuk’s play time and production would vary based on reams of analytics, including GPS practice information, matchup history, the length of the blades of grass on the playing field, and which way the wind is blowing.

I think I see this differently than most. I don’t see Aiyuk as the victim in all of this. I don’t believe he has put himself in position to succeed this season.

In five games, he has played 221 snaps. He’s been targeted 15 times with eight catches for 90 yards.

In his four worst games as a rookie, Aiyuk played 222 snaps, was targeted 13 times, caught seven passes for 66 yards.

Nobody benefits — not the coaches, not the quarterbacks, nobody — from Aiyuk’s lack of production. It is on him to do everything necessary to make an impact in the final 12 games of the season.

Overreaction? Yes.

That union ran its course.

Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are better off without each other.

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