Lance figures to get lot of playing time in 49ers' preseason


The 49ers do not have nearly enough time on the practice field during organized team activities to satisfy anyone not named Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance.

The team has five quarterbacks on their 90-man roster, but the focus will be on Garoppolo and Lance.

Garoppolo is taking the first-team snaps at practice. That is understandable. Coach Kyle Shanahan wants to give Garoppolo enough work to make sure he is in the best position possible to do his part for the 49ers to play winning football early in the regular season.

Then, the 49ers want Lance to take what he has learned in the meeting room and apply it on the practice field in Santa Clara.

Lance is the 49ers’ future quarterback. That much was guaranteed from the moment they selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The only question is when Lance will take over.

How quickly Lance makes the adjustment to the NFL and the 49ers’ offensive system will determine the timeframe for him being elevated to No. 1 on the depth chart.

Garoppolo’s performance and his ability to remain healthy, of course, will also factor into the equation.

The 49ers began OTAs on Monday, and Lance's every move will be dissected.

After four weeks on on-field workouts, culminating with the mandatory three-day minicamp, the 49ers will break for a while.

Then, everything will heat up again during training camp and the three-game preseason.

This shapes up as the most relevant preseason the 49ers have played in a long, long time.

Lance should get plenty of opportunities to play in their three games, scheduled against the Kansas City Chiefs (Saturday, Aug. 14), the Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday, Aug. 22) and the Las Vegas Raiders (Sunday, Aug. 29).

Rookie quarterbacks generally get the most playing time during the preseason. And this summer with the NFL scaling back the preseason to three games, there is greater urgency to get young players on the field.

Shanahan had rookie quarterback, C.J. Beathard, on the team in 2017. Beathard led the 49ers’ quarterbacks in playing time in the preseason. He attempted 50 passes, got sacked five times and had six rushing attempts, including a 62-yard touchdown.

In 2011, then-coach Jim Harbaugh had second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers quarterbacks in playing time. Kaepernick attempted 50 passes. He was sacked eight times and attempted nine rushes.

RELATED: How 49ers rookie Mitchell kept fresh with part-time workload

The only time in recent history in which the 49ers had a rookie who had a chance to open the season as the starter was in 2004.

Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick, and veteran Tim Rattay had the same number of dropbacks (52) in the preseason. Smith looked to be nowhere ready to take over as the starter, as he completed just 45.5 percent of his attempts.

Rattay began the season as the starter before Smith replaced him in the middle of the season.

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