Trey Lance Is Not To Blame For The 49ers’ Week 1 Loss

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers huddles with the offense against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


On Sunday, Trey Lance took the field for the first time as a full-time starter in a regular season game for the San Francisco 49ers, as they took on the Chicago Bears.

At first glance, he was rather lackluster, as he went 13-of-28 with an interception and no touchdowns as the 49ers lost, 19-10.

The natural inclination would be to blame him for the loss, especially since he replaced the popular Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter under center.

There is certainly a sizable faction of Niners fans who are biased against Lance and towards Garoppolo and feel it is already time to bench the former in favor of the latter.

But a closer look at what transpired reveals that, although Lance didn’t play well, he was hardly the main culprit for San Francisco’s loss.

In fact, he did play solid ball for long stretches while doing some things well.


Lance Wasn’t Bad In The First Half

Early on, it looked like an ugly contest, as neither team scored in the first quarter, but the 49ers took control in the second quarter.

As expected, they ran the ball a lot early on, but when Lance threw the ball, he was solid.

He completed his first two passes, the second of which was a 31-yard reception to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

On the prior snap, he got San Francisco a first down on a third-and-one with a QB sneak.

Early in the second quarter, he found Ray-Ray McCloud downfield for a 20-yard reception that led to a rushing touchdown by Deebo Samuel.

Later, facing a third-and-13, he found a gap in the defense and ran it himself for a first down.

Early in the third quarter, Lance again converted on third down with his legs.

In all, he created six first downs by running the ball by himself, and he finished with 54 yards on 13 carries for a solid 4.2 yards per rush attempt.

Then there was this bomb to Jauan Jennings in the third period that helped set up a Robbie Gould field goal for a 10-0 lead.

Once the Niners fell behind 13-10 in the fourth quarter, Lance’s passing accuracy plunged.

However, it should be noted that Elijah Mitchell, the team’s top running back, left the game early in the second quarter with a sprained MCL.

Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle didn’t play at all because of a groin ailment.

In addition, it started raining pretty hard in the second half at Soldier Field, leading to very slick and wet conditions on the field.

On one snap during the 49ers’ final offensive series, Lance fumbled the ball, then recovered it, and the fumble may have occurred due to a moist football.


The 49ers Defense Failed To Get The Job Done

The third quarter was when things turned awry for San Francisco, and it had nothing to do with Lance.

It allowed Bears QB Justin Fields, who had a dismal first half, to loosen up, and he connected with Dante Pettis for a 51-yard reception and touchdown that put them on the board.

On their next series, they started on their own 16-yard line and marched down the field for another touchdown, this time by Equanimeous St. Brown.

If Lance should be blamed for anything, it’s the interception he threw with 9:53 left in the fourth quarter that put Chicago on the 49ers’ 21-yard line and led to yet another touchdown.

But there was yet another big culprit for them.


The 49ers Beat Themselves With Penalties

The easiest way for a team to beat itself in football is by committing penalties, and the Niners had plenty of them.

In all, they committed 12 penalties, which cost them 99 yards, which makes it hard to win, especially on the road and in rainy conditions.

Lance and the 49ers have plenty of work to do before they take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, but there are reasons to be encouraged when it comes to Lance’s development.

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