Trey Lance takes full accountability for offensive struggles Sunday

Aug 15, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 8:27 am

Tight end Ross Dwelley #82 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with quarterback Trey Lance #5 of ...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 13: Tight end Ross Dwelley #82 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers after Dwelley's touchdown reception during the second quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium on August 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

Sunday’s performance against the Las Vegas Raiders was not the return to football Trey Lance was hoping for.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback struggled mightily in the first half, pressure on almost every possession. Scrambling to find receivers downfield, Lance’s accuracy waned as he escaped oncoming defenders. The result: Four sacks in the first and three, three & outs to start the game.

While he ended with a decent stat line (10-15, 112 passing yards, one touchdown), numbers are far from the full picture in this one. But even though it wasn’t his fault alone, the signal-caller stood up for his teammates.

“I mean, it doesn’t feel good to go three and out, especially to start the game. So, that was definitely frustrating, but I obviously put it on myself to continue to be better, make sure the guys around me are ready to go, I’m ready to go. It starts with me, so I put that on myself,” Trey Lance said after Sunday’s loss.

Kyle Shanahan, on the other hand, came to the defense of his young QB, blaming the game on a slow start as a whole.

“It got off to a rough start for everybody. I mean three, three and outs for the whole offense the first three times, so I don’t put that all on Trey by any means, but the whole offense was sloppy to start,” the 49ers head coach stated.

Trey Lance’s lone score of the first half came in the second quarter, thanks to sheer luck.

Rolling out to his left on a play-action, the QB found WR Chris Conley sprinting toward the back of the endzone. Firing a laser through the middle, Lance’s pass gets tipped by Raiders’ cornerback Duke Shelley Jr. Unable to secure it, the defender taps the ball towards the hands of 49ers’ tight end Ross Dwelley, holding onto it for the score.

A miraculous play that almost ended in disaster.

“It was a, ‘Yes, yes, yes, no, yes,’ situation,” Lance said about the throw. “Yeah, [Ross] Dwelley ended up making a great play. The defense made a great play. I didn’t think he’d be able to get to it. But yeah, guys made plays and ended up working out.”

Shanahan was a little more encouraged by the play, taking away a few positives from an otherwise poor day at the office for his squad.

“But [Lance] had a real good second drive, leading there on the score. Made a hell of a play on the touchdown. I know it was almost a hell of a play for them with the pick, but that was the last guy on a bootleg; it flashed, and he put it on him,” Shanahan explained.

The offensive-minded coach has long asked his young pupil to be more aggressive in scoring situations. While this time almost had a bad ending, he was pleased with the. QB’s willingness to take a risk.

“It was scary for a lot of it but I totally saw what he saw,” Shanahan said on Monday. “The middle third safety cut the low cross and there was a guy going behind him. What I liked is he didn’t react and he saw a hole and tried to rip it.”

In turn, Lance needs to work on his decision-making, especially when extending plays. Often times the 23-year-old would get caught behind the line of scrimmage, refusing to throw the ball away. It’s something he’s worked on and will continue to do so this preseason.

“Yeah, for sure. I know there’s one I definitely could have thrown away and avoided a sack. At least it felt like it on the field. But again, that’s one of the things I think I’ve really got to go back and watch the tape,” the QB said.

Despite all the uncertainty though, Trey Lance appears unfazed in conversation. The North Dakota State alum seems as determined as ever to showcase his talent in the NFL, taking it one day at a time.

“For me, I was just excited to get back out there. Honestly, today that was the biggest thing, go play real football again, go compete again. So, that felt good, I guess first and foremost, but obviously the score showed it. But just from drive to drive, just got to execute better,” Trey Lance said.

As for his future starting chances? Those may be on hold, especially with Brock Purdy fully cleared in practice.

But for now, Shanahan & Co. are encouraged with what Lance is offering, hoping more aggressiveness in the pocket pays off in the long run.

“Usually when a middle third player cuts a route, someone has vacated in the middle third and that corner was hesitant to get there,” Kyle Shanahan explained. “Trey didn’t see him and he let it rip and those are the things I want to see more of.

“Not picks and bad decisions but playing a little bit faster and more aggressive. I think that was one that he did that on, but also ones that I mentioned that weren’t just lucky but ended up being good.”

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