Skip to main content

What Exactly is Shanahan Looking for in Trey Lance's Preseason Debut?

The San Francisco 49ers are set to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday for the first of three matchups on their exhibition slate.

All eyes will be on the 49ers quarterback, in particular the highly anticipated debut of Trey Lance. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has reiterated it's Jimmy Garoppolo's job to keep. However, the early progress of the rookie quarterback certainly brought intrigue into San Francisco's situation.

Shanahan already gave a peek into how much we’ll see of San Francisco’s quarterbacks. But what is he looking for out of the No. 3 overall pick on Saturday?

"I'd like to see him playing the game how he's been in practice," Shanahan said on 49ers Training Camp Rewind. "Nothing seems too big for him. He doesn't ever seem over-hyped. He seems like the same guy at practice every day. He does a lot of good things. He makes some mistakes, but he doesn't seem to waver. He comes back the next play and looks like the same guy. I hope I see that in the stadium."

While Lance has dazzled in his limited showings throughout training camp, there is only so much the rookie can experience outside of live game reps. Saturday will be his first live attempt at getting the play call from the sideline, commanding the huddle, play-clock awareness, taking care of the football, making mid-play decisions in real time among countless other details.

The 49ers don't need to give Garoppolo too many reps on Saturday as the team knows what to expect out of the veteran quarterback. The expectation is for the rookie to finish out the first half of the exhibition opener behind Garoppolo. If all goes according to plan, Lance and San Francisco's second-team offense should manage to get a brief look at Kansas City's starters.

While the physical tools are widely discernible, Shanahan will be observing how the rookie deals with unanticipated situations that may arise.

There will be a lot of eyes on Lance on Saturday and how he lives up to the expectations of a No. 3 overall pick. While the final score may not tell the full story of Lance's outing, how he masters his debut will be the true mark of his first look at NFL snaps.

"I'm not going to look at it as a positive or negative. I just want to go see him play out there," Shanahan added. "I can't wait until the next day when we can sit and watch the tape. And I do hope some tough things happen. I want him to get out of it healthy, but I want some learning experiences to happen where you go through that in the preseason and you can get into regular season and be a lot wiser and play a lot smarter. You don't want to have to go through the hard way when it counts."