The San Francisco 49ers took on the Kansas City Chiefs at Levi’s Stadium for their first preseason game Saturday night. They ultimately lost, 19-16, but football is back, fans are back and they got a look at their rookie QB. Let’s take a look.
It was not a spectacular debut for rookie quarterback Trey Lance, but he made a spectacular play that gave the 49ers a glimpse of the future, and the future is bright.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) August 15, 2021
After replacing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who played one series, Lance took the field and on his second pass attempt, threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Trent Sherfield. Lance dropped back, faked play-action to the right, then rolled left and threw downfield to an open Sherfield. And the crowd went wild, literally.
“It was awesome,” said Garoppolo. “We kind of saw it coming, you know, knowing the play and everything I’ve watched and [WR] Trent [Sherfield] the whole time and he just broke the guy off and Trey put a beautiful pass out there. I mean, it was really cool. Having the fans back in the stadium was a really cool atmosphere to just, you don’t realize how much you miss them until they’re not there.”
Lance played 29 snaps, going 5-of-14 for 128 yards, the touchdown and had a a passer rating of 93.8. Lance’s first pass was dropped by wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, while two more of his incompletions were dropped as well. Lance was also sacked four times behind an offensive line that did not have Alex Mack or Trent Williams, but even so, the reserve unit left a lot to be desired. Even with the pressure, Lance never attempted a run, while he fumbled (and recovered it) once and was almost intercepted twice.
“There was some good and some bad, I mean, by no means was it perfect,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Definitely missed a couple. There was a couple of spots that you’d like them to go to different places. Sometimes a couple of balls that sailed on him I think he’d like to have back. But he also came out pretty good too, making the right plays, getting in the right spots. We had a couple of drops there with, especially on a third down that he could have kept the drive going if we had caught it. But it was a good first day. I mean, I didn’t want it to go perfect for him. I’d like some things that he could learn from…”
When it comes to poise and confidence on the field, Lance does not seem like a rookie, which is something that is not lost on his teammates.
“He’s a competitor,” Sherfield said. “And for me, just watching him out there today, he looked very, very poised. Very, very poised. You expect some guys, rookies, to be a little bit shaken up, but Trey, he’s not. He’s not shaken at all. He loves the moment. He plays big in the moment, man. I can’t wait to see him continue to grow and continue to ascend.”
And where does that confidence come from? Preparation.
“I guess my mindset is just to prepare to the point where I know I’ve done everything I can to put myself in a position to be successful,” Lance said. “…At that point, you know, going into every game, I feel like I’m confident and don’t really have a whole lot to be nervous about. But yeah…left a few big ones out there. So very, very excited and ready to get back to work.”
With cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett, and free safety Jimmie Ward, not dressing for the game, it was rookie defensive back-palooza in the secondary, and the kids were alright. CB Deommodore Lenoir and safety Talanoa Hufanga started and made their presence known.
Lenoir recorded an interception on a pass from Chiefs’ quarterback Chad Henne, while Hufanga was dinged with pass interference penalty but had key special teams tackles.
“I saw he made some plays today,” Shanahan said of Hufanga. “I thought I saw a tackle on special teams, saw a couple of hits on defense. I think he’s getting better each week and he’s one of the guys I’m excited to watch how he played though.”
With Tarvarius Moore and Jaquiski Tartt hurt, Hufanga is competing for the starting strong safety position and just might get it.
Rookie corner Ambry Thomas also saw a lot of reps, and it was a big opportunity for both he and Lenoir to show what they can do.
“I know they got a lot of man-to-man reps,” Shanahan said. “I think they challenged them a bit, from what I saw and I know they got beat a couple of times, but I also saw them playing some tight coverage and not giving up. They got a lot of reps out there and never seemed to tire out. Well, I know they tired out, but they played their hardest and it’ll be good to get that on tape and as much tape as you can get with those rookies, the better. And I think defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans put them in a lot of man situations, which is what we wanted to see. And now we’ll grade the tape and see if we get better or worse from it.”
First half observations:
Trey Lance is good
Trent Sheffield may be WR3
Secondary depth should be fine
Reserve offensive line 😬😬😬#49ers
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) August 15, 2021
- As evidenced by the four sacks Lance took and the constant pressure he was under, the 49ers’ reserve offensive line was less than idea. Rookie Aaron Banks also left the game with a shoulder injury.
- Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell was out with an abductor strain and Shanahan said he expect him to miss a couple weeks.