49ers’ Trey Lance-Jimmy Garoppolo QB call vs. Rams has no easy answer

There can be no assurance that Jimmy Garoppolo will be able to successfully meet the most basic quarterback demands at the most critical stage of the season.

The 49ers need him to hold a soccer ball firmly and throw it with precision.

The 49ers are due to prepare for a virtual home game this week against the leading NFC West Los Angeles Rams.

If the 49ers win, they advance to the playoffs. Even if the 49ers lose, they can still advance to the playoffs, but only if the Atlanta Falcons upset the New Orleans Saints.

Coach Kyle Shanahan has said Garoppolo will start if he is healthy enough to function.

But if Garoppolo is unable to function with a torn ligament in his right thumb, Shanahan will turn to rookie Trey Lance again.

The options for the 49ers are: 1). A quarterback who is less than 100 percent physically; or, 2). A quarterback who is currently under 100 percent with the team’s offensive system.

Tight end George Kittle pointed out in the aftermath of the 49ers’ 23-7 victory over the Houston Texans that the 49ers entered the game with a modified game plan tailored to Lance.

“It was (was) a little more basic than usual,” Kittle said.

Shanahan is well regarded for the details of his offense, which incorporates a variety of changes, moves, before and after hooking adjustments depending on play appeal and defense.

The 49ers’ approach with Lance was, basically, to call up a play in the squad and execute it regardless of the lineup or defense coverage.

If there is any question whatsoever about Garoppolo’s ability to play, the question is whether the 49ers want to make sacrifices with their quarterback who is not 100% healthy or 100% with the program.

It’s a decision that will be made only with the last week of the regular season in mind.

But the decision to trade two future first-round draft picks, as well as a third round, to move up to No.3 for Lance was for the seasons to come.

Lance’s performance in Week 17 may have shown that he is improving behind the scenes as a replacement for Garoppolo. Lance looked more comfortable and looked more like an NFL quarterback on Sunday than he had in a rambling Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

On Sunday, Lance completed 16 of 23 attempted passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a 116.0 passer rating. He also did not count as much on his run, because he carried the ball only eight times for 31 yards.

He was far from perfect, of course, but Lance showed many skills that inspired Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to make the bold move that they believe will benefit the 49ers for many years to come. .

Shanahan has approached this season on two tracks. He wanted to maximize this season with the quarterback who gave the team the best chance of winning in 2021. And he wanted to prepare Lance and build his confidence to put him in the most advantageous position when he takes the lead. relay in 2022.

Playing the NFL quarterback as a rookie isn’t easy. The first two picks in the draft, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, struggled a lot. Are they better prepared for future success? It is debatable. They were certainly not ready to take over early in the season, but Jacksonville and the New York Jets had no other options.

With Garoppolo, the 49ers had another option. Overall, Garoppolo played well. Lance seems to have used his save time wisely. This was evident when he took his first steps at Levi’s Stadium.

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Lance found success against the Texans and kept the 49ers alive in the NFC playoff photo. That, in itself, should give him a boost of confidence ahead of the offseason.

And if he’s called up again in Week 18 against the Rams, Lance’s learning and growth will continue. He would benefit from that in the future, regardless of the outcome.

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