Trey Lance made his NFL debut in Week 1, taking four total snaps under center with his first-career pass going for a touchdown.
Since, he's been MIA.
Week 2's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was all Jimmy Garoppolo's game. While many speculated Kyle Shanahan's rotation of quarterbacks to continue throughout the regular season, the rookie remained on the sideline for the entirety of the contest, despite Garoppolo's dismal start.
The 49ers went three-and-out on three-straight drives to open the contest, with their first, first down of the day not coming until the final drive of the half.
Despite the sluggish start, the 49ers offense eventually found momentum to spark San Francisco's win. Garoppolo finished the day completing 22-of-30 passes for 189 yards and two total touchdowns that also featured two 90-yard drives.
Given San Francisco's uncertainty to open the contest, did it ever cross Shanahan's mind to sprinkle in his rookie signal caller for a momentum change?
"No. I never have a plan that, 'Hey, I'm going to use him or I'm not going to use him.' It's always an option throughout the game," Shanahan explained. "It's been two games and I've never had him in the openers and I've never had him at a designated time. I plan on doing that week-to-week and whenever I feel like putting him in. You saw when I did in Week 1 and I never got that urge in Week 2."
It was assumed that Lance's usage in the preseason, as well as season opener in Detroit, would offer a glimpse into how the 49ers would operate their dual-quarterback system. And in particular, giving the rookie valuable live reps under center. Lance played just one game during his final season at North Dakota State following an abbreviated season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 17 total games during his time with the Bison.
But rather than gaining experience during live game action, the head coach values the ability to use a switch at quarterback to attack opposing defenses. And ultimately, utilizing whichever option gives the 49ers the best chance to win.
"I understand every angle that people want to take with it. But I also understand that we're an NFL team and we're trying to win each game and we do have a starting quarterback and that usually makes it pretty simple," Shanahan continued. "But when your backup quarterback does have a skillset that can bring different things to the game, that's what gives him an option for us to do. He has something that someone has to prepare for week in and week out. And I think that's an awesome club that we have in our bag that we can use at any time.
"But you don't really make decisions based off your team of just putting a guy in totally just for how that is for him in the future. I think that'd be irresponsible to everybody else in the room. You do it if you think it gives you a chance based off of what's going on in that game, that game only. In the meantime, yeah, it's nice for a guy to get out there. But if it wasn't because he was bringing a different element that we thought could help us with something that we're going against, there's no other reason that we would do it."
The 49ers have remained committed to Garoppolo being the best option for the club going forward. Through two games, the quarterback has thrown for 503 yards on 39 passes while averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, the ninth-best mark in the NFL through two weeks, en route to two-consecutive wins to open the season.
While some are clamoring for the opportunity to watch the No. 3 overall pick dazzle on the field, fans might have to temper expectations until Shanahan believes Lance is ready, needed, or, the head coach is looking to add yet another wrinkle to his offense.