Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

Will the 49ers employ a two QB system? Hard to say. One thing is for sure, Trey Lance will get his opportunity to play during the regular season. Kyle Shanahan is the master of illusion. He had everyone thinking the 49ers was drafting Mac Jones. He never said that. He didn’t even hint it. The media somehow got it in their heads that the 49ers would draft him, and Shanahan and Lynch didn’t disavow the speculation. Today’s game highlights Shanahan’s mastery of illusion. He throws Lance out there to hand the ball off. Yet, in obvious yard to go or goal to go situations, he let Jimmy G do his thing. In those situations, Jimmy G picks up first downs as well as the touchdown. The irony? Jimmy G picked up those conversions and a TD with his legs.

The benefits of running the two QB system are interesting. First, the system is extraordinarily difficult to prep for and play against. Second, the play caller can keep a high up-tempo offense going by sending the QB in with the play whenever he is making the switch making it difficult for defenses to adjust. The main downside is the possibility that either quarterback is inhibited from getting into a proper rhythm. Whatever happens on this issue, illusions will continue to appear.

Trey Lance isn’t ready to take the reins yet. Several of his throws were behind receivers. A few of his throws were short. One was high. However, there were three key drops, two by Jalen Hurd and one by Juan Jennings. Trey needs seasoning. The aptitude is there. The talent is there. The brains are there. Trey needs to continue to work to put it all together on a consistent basis. He has a great coach to learn from. He has a great QB in front of him to observe.

Jimmy Garoppolo finally looked relaxed. He had a good showing. He had great throws. He also used his legs to obtain first downs and a touchdown. He is the starter. He knows the offense. He will be a great teacher and mentor to the 21-year-old Trey Lance. That is what the 49ers need right now. My hope is that Jimmy G can put together another season where he remains healthy allowing Trey Lance to learn the NFL game.

The first team defense is on point. Great push by Armstead, Kinlaw, Jones and Ebukam. Marcell Harris switching to linebacker is turning out to be brilliant for him and the team. Harris will knock you out of your cleats. He also plays with intelligence and attitude. Hufanga is showing that he can start in the NFL. He was all over the field and had several critical tackles as well as an almost sack. Drafting him in the 5th round might turn out to be a steal.

The wide receiver corps will be interesting after cuts. Deebo, Aiyuk and Sherfield are locks for the final 53. I think Sanu Jr. makes the team. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. We finally saw Jalen Hurd on the field after two years of battling injuries. He was up and down. He is a smooth rhythmic athlete. He lacks consistency. Both of his drops today were costly. He didn’t make much of an impact running the ball. On at least one occasion, Jennings had to help Hurd line up appropriately. However, Hurd made 4 good catches. I think he can get better if he stays on the team. It remains to be seen if Coach Shanahan will keep him around to allow him to continue to grow. Jennings had a big drop. He also had a big catch. Maybe he makes it. Maybe not. I do think Coach will keep one of them. Jennings is 6’3 and Hurd is 6’5. The 49ers could use the height as well as the physicality. I think it will be difficult to keep both because they will also likely keep Travis Benjamin for special teams’ purposes. I don’t envy the 49ers brass on cut day.

The 49ers last pre-season game of the year had a lot of good in it. Special Teams and Defense played extremely well. I would grade the Offense out to be a solid B. The run game was A plus while the pass game was closer to a B minus. There are still improvements to make but I think the season looks bright for the 49ers. They are deep. They are healthy (for the most part). They are hungry. The 49ers are contenders this year. I am looking forward to Game 1 against Detroit!

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