The question de jour regarding Trey Lance’s season-ending ankle injury is as follows: Did Kyle Shanahan put his young quarterback at undo risk by running him up the middle at a fairly regular clip both on Sunday, and in the few games he’s started throughout his career?
Remember that Lance injured his knee in last season’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, a game in which he ran 16 times, though not all designed. On Sunday, Lance ran three times, all up the middle, and was injured on his third carry in the first quarter.
Former 49ers tight end Brent Jones isn’t buying the criticism against Shanahan, and sounded pretty pissed off about it when speaking with Tolbert & Copes on Monday.
“Anybody that’s blaming Kyle, and that Kyle has culpability, doesn’t understand the way the pro game is played,” Jones said on KNBR. “I was really upset last night when I heard some of that stuff come in. That’s just such BS, it’s a joke.
“The reason they drafted Trey is because what he brings to the table as an athlete, not only in the pocket but outside the pocket with his legs. He can create tons of problems and nobody calls a play thinking ‘I better not call this play because the guy could blow out his ankle and be out for the year.’ It doesn’t enter into the mindset on game day, and that’s for fans to sit back and second guess. It’s just a bunch of crap to be honest with you.”
Jones’ answer seems to reflect Shanahan’s philosophy, that a) running the ball is an important part of Lance’s skillset, and b) anyone can get hurt on any play. Football is a violent game, and you have to call the plays you think are going to work and hope for the best.
“You play the game and you use the skills you have and the capabilities you have on the field at all times to win the game,” Jones continued. “That drives me crazy, when people say that.”
Jones also argued that quarterbacks running has become more of the norm throughout the NFL, and cited Josh Allen as a prime example. Though Allen is a little bigger than Lance, the Bills do use him on designed runs. It should be noted that Lance’s designed run rate was high than Allen’s in his limited sample size.
“I just think that question is moot,” Jones concluded, “and if that’s a consistent theme it’s bogus if you ask me.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Tolbert & Copes weekdays from 2 – 6 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.