After the Forty-Niners 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, they now face the possible loss of their starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. This opens the door for their rookie first-round pick Trey Lance to step in and get the Forty-Niners to the playoffs. At the same time, the playoffs are not a foregone conclusion for the Niners. They are very much in the hunt and would seemingly have to lose out not to have a chance. Those implications make this week a must-win for the Forty-Niners. This article will outline how the Niners with Trey Lance can make it happen.

Jimmy G’s Injuries and Inconsistencies

This is a fact, and the 49ers are 2-4 when Jimmy G throws 30 or more passes in a game. In that span, he’s thrown six of his ten interceptions and has two games with multiple interceptions. What does that tell you? It tells you that the 49ers can’t rely on Jimmy G to win you the game. He’s more or less there to not lose you the game. His most significant issues continue to be accuracy and decision-making. In the Titans game, he overthrew Kyle Juszcyzk on a walk-in TD opportunity. This is something that has plagued him since the Emmanuel Sanders throw. Going forward, if he’s going to be an NFL quarterback, the best thing he can do is try to be calm under pressure. Go through his reads and let his guys get open.

As I stated in the previous paragraph, Jimmy has been at his worst when asked to be the offense’s focal point. The Niners have tried to make Jimmy G their quarterback this year, and much like in the past, it works when he’s not asked to throw the ball and make the big plays. That kind of sums up Jimmy’s career; he’s good enough but not a game-changer. Unfortunately, an injury to his thumb might be his undoing, but it’s the move that the Niners need to make.

Playoff Chances

There are a couple of scenarios for the Forty-Niners to get in. The most straightforward path is to win out. The following scenario would be they beat Houston, and the Saints lose to the Panthers. This would clinch them a Wildcard spot per Nick Wagoner.

Sticking to the script

It’s easy to blame Jimmy G for throwing two interceptions in a crucial game. However, we must remember that the play calling wasn’t helping him either. This team needs to stick to its identity as a run-first team. They were burying their opponents with their pace of play and hard-hitting style. 18 minutes and 22 seconds was how long the 49ers had the ball in the first half. The second half was 12 minutes and 39 seconds of the Titans game.

This team gave Jeff Wilson the rock ten times in the first half for 32 yards. Wilson had a touchdown early and broke off some good runs but only had four runs for 13 yards in the second half. This is an interesting storyline as the Niners have run the ball the fifth most (46.9 %) in the league. Unfortunately, they ran it 37.5% of the time in the biggest game of the year. It’s hard to believe that it’s a lack of trust in Wilson Jr as the team just came off a game where Wilson ran the ball 21 times.

Against the Texans, it’s going to be imperative to get the run game going, whether it’s Wilson Jr or Elijah Mitchell. These Texans allow the most rushing yards (1,823) and second-most TDs (18) to opposing running backs. If there’s ever a game tailor-made for the 49ers to bounce back, it’s this Texans game. That being said, it won’t be nearly as easy as it sounds. The Texans are coming off a big upset against Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers. They’ll be looking to continue to spoil playoff chances this week. This is why the Niners must use their best asset against a team that can’t stop the run.

Trey Lance

I think the Niner Nation is looking for something out of Trey Lance that we probably won’t get in the Texans game. That being said, we shouldn’t ask too much of this kid too soon; we spent three first-rounders on him. So we should give him a chance to grow in the league. His stat line threw one and a half games were a completion rate of 50.5%, three touchdowns, and one interception. He also ran 23 times for 130 yards in that one and a half-game. A couple of notes I had on Lance after rewatching those games. He didn’t read defenses well, often throwing into double coverage. He also, at the time, didn’t have the touch to get his players the ball. Some of Lance’s passes were wobbly, but the ones that looked good were fired out of a cannon and often dropped. Some good notes, Lance used his legs to extend plays well. While I think he needs to be more decisive and stop hesitating on broken plays. It’s going to be essential for him not to hesitate when the play isn’t going according to the script.

Lance offers the “big” play option for the Niners that can’t seem to get going with Jimmy G. While he hasn’t been amazing throwing the deep ball, completing three of his eight attempts in the one and a half games played. He will have opportunities against the Texans secondary, allowing the ninth most plays of 20 or more yards (47). So I wouldn’t be surprised if the Niners let Lance throw a couple of deep balls to Deebo, Brandon Aiyuk, or George Kittle.


Lance was drafted to be the future of the 49ers. While this might be sooner than coach Shanahan wanted, he did say that Lance was having his best month of practice in December. This hopefully instills confidence in the 3rd pick of the NFL Draft and helps propel the 49ers to their second playoff appearance during the Shanahan-Lynch Regime.



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Justin Herrera

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