As 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan decides to send quarterback Trey Lance back to the bench in favor of starter-turned-backup Jimmy Garoppolo, there is still another way for Garoppolo to get back on the field.
Lance could be injured.
Coach Kyle Shanahan smashes Lance to save himself. But that doesn’t mean he should always give up instead of trying to gain extra scale. And this is where the risk of injury lies.
“There will always be, as I said a million times, there are always going to be better decision-makers that I can,” Lance told reporters on Wednesday. “But on Sundays I felt like I had protected myself very well, I felt good for the most part. Maybe a couple I would have descended or slipped a step faster, found an edge and descended. But for the most part, when I’m running between tackles or running on third downs, I’m never going to slide and go into fourths and twos and just leave the game and field. But I send my defense. This is such a situation.”
Lance is still learning how his physical abilities match up with the skills of his pursuers.
“I’m not bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else,” said Lance. “People catch up too quickly, space fills up, people close too fast, and I have to learn to keep myself safe, knowing just how important it is for me to stay healthy. . . . Guys are coming down the aisle, guys don’t hesitate. It’s definitely one of the biggest things, for me, especially running after, I have to be able to defend myself.”
Shanahan seems to agree with the notion that there will be times when Lance must be careful to win.
“He still has to play football,” Shanahan said on Wednesday. “And so I compare it to all quarterbacks in the league who can run and have time to slide, take edges and have time to dive. There are ways for receivers to go ahead and split the two, Where they are getting hit on the sides of their shoulders that you don’t feel. You have to get down when you have people in certain areas who are weak, but something is going to happen that affects that. There will be some that he can protect himself. And it’s just for him and us to work out.”
One thing they are not working on is the growing speculation that they may be at risk of getting the hook. They are not working through it because they are ignoring it.
“I don’t keep track of it,” Shanahan said of the noise. “It’s just out here and it really has nothing to do with what we’re doing.”
Maybe not now. But if the 49ers, who are nearly 10-point favorites on Sunday, lose to the Seahawks, it could have a lot to do with what they will do next week, when Shanahan takes his team back to Denver.