49ers’ rookie Lance closing in on first start
Garoppolo still not practicing, nor Kittle
SANTA CLARA » Trey Lance was at the controls of the 49ers’ quarterback warmups for a second straight day, with no sign of Jimmy Garoppolo rallying from a calf injury to block Lance’s starting debut Sunday at Arizona.
So there Lance was, wearing a black wristband to remind him of play calls, the most notable fashion accessory from his black, No. 5 jersey down to his matching red leggings and cleats.
Throwing simultaneously with Lance — at least most times in the warmup drill — was Nate Sudfeld, who’d likely be elevated if Garoppolo misses his 24th start because of injury since 2018.
As some of Lance’s passes sailed high and off receivers’ fingers before Thursday’s team drills ensued, they blamed themselves for not grabbing them. But wild throws should be expected from what Lance has shown in limited action as a pro, including a 9-of-18 effort in second-half relief of Garoppolo in Sunday’s 28-21 loss to Seattle.
Accuracy aside, Lance’s strong arm will keep the Cardinals’ defense honest, but it’s also his nimble legs and play-making panache that enticed the 49ers to draft him No. 3 overall.
“He’ll see some things out there that he’s never seen before, but what you like about him and stuff that he might not be ready for he can overcompensate with some of his athletic ability and, to me, how competitive he is and how good of a football player he is,” Shanahan said Wednesday.
That could translate to more improvised plays than the 49ers have had from any quarterback since Shanahan arrived in 2017 — and replaced Colin Kaepernick, their last dual threat.
“Anytime you can have a guy who can create an offschedule play and bide more time, that’s great,” Shanahan said. “When you can run around when people are playing soft zones, those only can hold up so long.
“But that starts turning into a little bit of backyard ball. And when you get into some of those situations, sometimes it’s late in games, you’re down a lot and you can create and make some big plays. But it’s got to be that type of game. You don’t want to force that type of game and that’s stuff I think we’ll get used to with Trey and he’ll get used to with us.”
Rushing Garoppolo from injury backfired a year ago.
In Week 5 last year, Garoppolo returned from a 2 ½-game absence, and he was so impacted by his Week 2 ankle injury, he got pulled at halftime of that 43-17 loss to Miami. He had two passes intercepted and was 7-of-17 for 77 yards with a careerworst 15.7 passer rating. KITTLE STILL OUT » For the second consecutive week, tight end George Kittle will miss full-speed practice because of calf soreness. Kittle, however, played 70 of 76 snaps against the Seahawks as he continues to search for his first touchdown this season. WILLIAMS, MACK BACK
» Left tackle Trent Williams (shoulder) and center Alex Mack resumed practicing after not doing so Wednesday. Mack may have a thumb issue but it’s not significant enough to be listed don the injury report, and Wednesday was listed as a rest day for him.
DEFENSIVE LINE HEALTH »
The 49ers’ defensive line is not at full health before facing elusive quarterback Kyler Murray. As position drills began, three linemen — Arik Armstead (adductor), Javon Kinlaw (knee) and Samson Ebukam (hamstring) — worked on their conditioning and stretched with a trainer.
CORNERBACK UPDATE »
Josh Norman looks fully cleared for contact after a lung contusion against the Packers kept him out against the Seahawks and limited him in Wednesday’s practice. Norman would be a presumed starter alongside Emmanuel Moseley, with either Dontae Johnson or Deommodore as the nickel back. Dre Kirkpatrick, who played on the Cardinals last year, started last game in place of Norman.