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Will Trey Lance return to field vs Rams?

The 49ers have slowed down their approach with the third overall pick’s development of late

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has thrown 48 pass attempts in his young pro career. Of those 48 attempts, 47 have come against NFC West foes. Will Lance, sight unseen since a Week 5 start vs the Arizona Cardinals, return to the field when the San Francisco 49ers host the LA Rams this Sunday?

Maybe.

Though Lance’s development time was expected to take a while before he was ready to start—the 21-year-old out of North Dakota State made just one start in 2020 and had just 318 career college pass attempts—49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan enlisted him as a backup to one of the league’s most fragile starting quarterbacks and predictably he’s been forced into action early. There’s also the possibility that Lance gives San Francisco a greater chance to win than Garoppolo, but so far that hasn’t been the case.

Lance went 9-of-18 for 157 yards and two touchdowns in relief duty of a 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, then 15-of-29 for 192 yards with an interceptions in a 17-10 loss to the Cardinals.

The rookie then missed a little bit of time with a knee injury but returned to practice ahead of Week 8’s win over the Chicago Bears and fellow rookie Justin Fields. Garoppolo has now started the last three games, the 49ers are 1-2 in those contests, and the veteran has had three interceptions and two fumbles in that time, getting sacked seven times.

Ian Rapoport reported less than two weeks ago that the 49ers were ready to turn the offense for Lance if the losses and/or Garoppolo’s struggles continued. That was before the 31-17 loss to Arizona in Week 9. Shanahan said the team won’t start Lance vs the Rams, though when asked that very question, the head coach said, “Probably not” and not “No”.

Lance won’t start but if the Rams get enough of a lead, he could very well finish.