Few people were immensely pleased with the 49ers’ offensive game plan against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Trey Lance, the man that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch invested three first-round picks and one third-round pick to acquire, ran the ball 16 times, taking a bevy of hits along the way.
Lance came out of that game with a sprained knee, which Shanahan said Monday is expected to be a one-to-two-week injury. He may be available against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7, after the 49ers’ bye, but that won’t be known until he’s re-evaluated at the end of this week.
The concern with Shanahan’s game plan is that the myriad quarterback draws and other designed runs put Lance in harm’s way too often and that approach poses a threat to Lance and the 49ers’ long-term well-being.
Steve Young joined the Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks show on Wednesday to discuss all things 49ers, and explained with that approach with Lance isn’t viable.
“That’s not replicable, right? That’s not something we can keep doing,” Young said. “That’s just clearly an effort to get him kind of in the mix. What’s obvious to me, Larry, is that he’s not trusted. He’s young, in his first game. When I say not trusted, people are gonna overreact. What rookie in his first start is trusted? Nobody. What I’m saying is it’s a sign that I don’t want to put him in a spot where, you know, I know, for a fact that if I put him on the run, that’s going to be something that he’s going to be very comfortable with and maybe we can get away with some things.”
The problem, Young said, is that quarterback runs should typically be decongested attempts. Lance was dealing with significant traffic when he carried the ball, and it’s not a recipe for Lance to thrive.
He credited the Cardinals’ for their defensive approach and preventing the 49ers from gashing them with Lance for long runs, but said Lance can’t be in those situations consistently.
“You hope that you have the extra blocker and extra little deception and then there’s not so many tough yards,” Young said. “You do not want Trey Lance out there running for the tough yards. No quarterback [should], not even Cam Newton; most of the yards the quarterback gets, 80 percent of them should be uncontested. That’s the whole point. And then the last 20 percent, you’ve got to figure out a way to get to the ground or get out of the way or not take a big hit.”
Listen to Young’s full interview below. It’s tremendous, as always.