San Francisco49ers

Jimmy G details how being scout-team QB can make Lance better


Trey Lance hasn't seen the field on Sundays lately as the 49ers have ridden an efficient Jimmy Garoppolo and bruising run game back into NFL playoff contention.

With Lance holding a Microsoft Surface on Sundays, practice reps are the best way for the rookie to continue his growth as a quarterback. While some might see the scout-team quarterback as a job that provides little value to the No. 3 overall pick, Garoppolo, who was the New England Patriots' scout-team quarterback early in his career, believes the role can be highly beneficial for Lance.

“Absolutely. Yeah. At that time, I mean, you just think you're a scout-team quarterback -- myself I'd never done it before -- so you don't know how to fully embrace that role, I guess," Garoppolo said Wednesday when asked about how Lance can get the most out the role. "But a lot of good could come from it. It's one of those things that the defense might have you circle on a receiver, and you have to throw this ball, and you have to find a way to stick it in there and beat the coverage.

"And those are the tough spots that you get in, but it makes you a better quarterback, I think.”

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Lance saw snaps in three of the 49ers' first four games before making his first career start in Week 5 when Garoppolo was out with a calf injury. Lance suffered a knee sprain in that Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and was inactive for the 49ers' next game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The North Dakota State product returned to full health in Week 8, but coach Kyle Shanahan has not busted out the Lance package as he did early in the season. The 49ers coach says that's about his own rhythm as a play-caller and not an indictment of Lance.

“What’s been hard on me, that I didn’t realize, is when you do bring in a different quarterback who gets a different set of plays, it’s almost the first play I’ve been seeing of a new defense,” Shanahan said. “You see what fronts and coverages they are doing, but they are doing it completely to a plan as a threat of the runner at that position. 

“I don’t know what to anticipate with it, and then I got to stay in it for a while to get a feel for that. And then you go back and that feels kind of off for the last guy, so it kind of hurts my rhythm a little bit of understanding what a defense is getting. That’s why personally as the year has gone I’ve gotten a little more away from it because I like to get a feel for what the defense is doing.” 

Garoppolo has been the most efficient quarterback in the NFL over the past month and has the 49ers rolling as the calendar turns to December. Lance remains the 49ers' future, but for now, the young signal-caller's primary role is mimicking the opposing offense for the week. A role that can pay dividends down the road if he gets the most out of it.

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