NFL

Injuries 'getting real old' for Garoppolo as Lance appears set for first Niners start

By Sports Desk October 04, 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo's frustration was evident as he was again struck by the injury bug, opening the door for rookie Trey Lance to take over as the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback.

Garoppolo did not feature in the second half of San Francisco's 28-21 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks, which dropped them to 2-2, because of a calf issue.

It meant third overall pick Lance, for whom the Niners traded three first-round draft choices to select, was rushed into action at short notice after Garoppolo was ruled out towards the end of half-time.

Lance could not lead a Niners team that wasted their first-half dominance to a win, with special teams miscues and penalties dooming them to a second straight home loss, but he did produce reasons for encouragement in his first extended competitive action since 2019.

He finished nine of 18 for 157 yards and two touchdowns passing while adding 41 yards on the ground, showing the dual-threat upside Garoppolo lacks.

Garoppolo is also bereft of luck on the injury front. He has completed just one full season as a starter in his NFL career, when he helped San Francisco to the Super Bowl in the 2019 campaign, and now looks set for at least a few weeks on the sideline.

"It happened in the first series," he told a media conference of his injury. "I don't know exactly what happened. Tweaked the calf. It hurt initially.

"I thought I'd keep trying, keep trying to go and it just kept getting worse and worse, traveling down to the Achilles a little bit, but we'll get more information tomorrow with MRI and everything. Hoping for the best right now.

"Just in between series, I could feel it tightening up in everything. I thought I could get it out. I tried to for the first half, but it's just tough, man. I don't know. I've been in the situation too many times and it's getting real old. So it's just one of those things, but a part of the business though."

For his part, Lance had no issue going in at short notice.

"I've been ready for and I stay prepared for whenever my name is called," he said. "I try to be as ready as possible, prepare that way during the week to be as ready as I possibly can.

"So I felt, obviously, confidence in myself and my team-mates and how well our defense had been playing and how well our offensive had been moving the ball. I felt really good about the situation that we were going into.

"I think there were plays, good and bad throughout the half. Missed some big ones, missed some easy ones, missed some check downs. Just definitely a few plays that I want back. But like I said, going to go back and watch it tonight and I think I'll learn a lot from that."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan described Lance's performance as a "typical first game" but felt he improved as the game wore on.

"He went in there unexpected and he competed. Trey's a football player. You guys can see that at times throughout that game. Regardless of what's happening, he's always got a chance to make a play and that's why I think he did," said Shanahan.

"It was good for him to take us down on that scoring drive there at the end. But it takes some time to play in this league as you guys have seen throughout.

"It's about knowing where to get rid of the ball, when to try to make those plays, when to check it down, have other guys do it for you, when to hang in the pocket, when to escape the pocket, and he got a lot of real NFL game experience with that today. Hopefully he'll get better from it." 

With Garoppolo likely out, Lance's first full game experience should come against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, and he may have to cope without left tackle Trent Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury.

"Yeah, I'm definitely excited," added Lance. "I'm excited to learn, like I said, learn as much as I can from this one. And then turn the page after these 24 hours and get started on Arizona."

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