Monday, October 3, 2022

Trey Lance, 49ers offense could ‘hit his opponent’ against Seahawks.

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Trey Lance struggled mightily as a passer in his first game as a straight starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, but the signal-caller sophomore added to the offense.

Lance has brought back a designed QB-led running game not seen since the days of Colin Kaepernick. While the advantage of Lance’s running barely increased an offense stuck in the rain-soaked slop against the Chicago Bears in Week 1, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan plans to let Lance continue to gain ground as a rusher against the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s an obvious strategy, but not one without risks, according to an NFL analyst. He has cited recent history to gauge how Lance might fare against the Seahawks.

Writing for NFL.com, Bucky Brooks outlined how effectively Lance ran against the Bears. In particular, Brooks broke down how many of the QB’s runs are no longer ad-libbed moments, but rather deliberately planned attack methods with Lance in the lineup:

Six designed rushes provided ample proof of how pages of the playbook are now being used to let Lance carry the ball. The tactic paid off as the 49ers averaged 4.8 yards per rush against the Bears.

It has also helped others to be successful, which has been noticed by David Lombardi of the athletethe one mentioned that a lance run is now possible on “most handovers”.

Those things led to Lance being responsible for 54 of his team’s 137 yards on the ground. So it makes sense that Shanahan would want to keep his quarterback running.

Shanahan made that clear while discussing an episode of Greg Papa 49ers schedule, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jarrod Castillo: “That’s his advantage, he needs to keep that. I mean, that’s what gives him an edge in this league when you pose a threat to flee, although you don’t have to do it every time. It can make things easier for him.”

It’s one thing to want Lance to run, but the Seahawks may not be the ideal opponents for Shanahan to keep his QB1 moving. Not according to Brooks, who noted how effective Seattle’s defense was at taking out running quarterbacks: “Last season, Seattle finished above the league average in defending designed quarterback runs and scrambles. Carroll’s 2021 Seahawks held opponents to just 2.5 yards per game on quarterback draft runs (ranked second in the NFL, according to next-gen stats) and 12.0 scramble rush yards (steadily ranked 12th).”

If the Seahawks can take away the safety net that Shanahan described for Lance, the latter will fight again. Those fights will only add to the chatter about a QB controversy involving last season’s starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Lance’s chances of success in both phases against the Seahawks could depend on the availability of an injured member of his supporting cast.

The unavailability of All-Pro tight end George Kittle definitely had a negative impact on the Lance-led offense in Week 1. Kittle missed it with a groin injury and although he recently returned to training, the 28-year-old remains ” questionable,” according to Eric Branch of Chronicle of San Francisco.

Kittle is best known for his ability as a receiver, but his value as a mid-game blocker cannot be overstated. Lance has previously seen how difficult it is without Kittle, per Jordan Elliott of SB Nation’s Niners Nation:

Even without Kittle, the 49ers should be confident of making gains against this Seahawks local defense. The same unit gave up 103 yards on just 20 attempts in the 17-16 Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos.

Most of those yards were gained by running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. The 49ers don’t have the same talent in the backfield after losing Elijah Mitchell to a knee injury.

While Jeff Wilson is ready as the next man, Adam Schefter told his ESPN colleague Field Yates like undrafted rookie Jordan Mason is an “interesting” option with “juice to his game”.

Ultimately, it may not matter which member of the running back room plays the workhorse. Not when Lance’s escape threat gives the Seahawks another potential ball carrier to worry about.

Brooks pointed out that Shanahan is only 2-8 against the Seahawks, but Lance could be the ideal weapon to change the 49ers’ fortunes against their NFC West rival. He failed to make it last season when he took over Garoppolo during the week four game at Levi’s Stadium, but Lance still gained 41 yards on 7 carries as a runner in a 28-21 loss.

If a Seahawks team that no longer has Russell Wilson to cast their spells lets Lance free again, the Niners will win and finally start a new era.

While Jeff Wilson is ready as the next man, Adam Schefter told his ESPN colleague Field Yates like undrafted rookie Jordan Mason is an “interesting” option with “juice to his game”.



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