Should the offense change with Lance

One of my favorite parts of covering the 49ers is the interactions with the fans. You came through with several fun questions which covered a wide range of topics. This week you asked about the draft, the quarterback position, and even a couple that go back to the glory days of the 49ers organization.  

“As of now, what’s your feeling on the position of the first pick (61)? Do you feel the 49ers draft for need or do you feel they draft best player available?” – @9erfan57

The 49ers come into the draft with needs at safety, interior offensive line, cornerback, edge rusher, and receiver.

San Francisco does an excellent job of creating depth in the roster so they can go with the best player available.

Looking at the players likely to be available at 61, the best value is safety or cornerback. Think Kerby Joseph from Illinois or Marcus Jones from Houston.

“Do you think the 49ers use all nine draft picks, or do they trade up/consolidate to 4-5 picks? I’m not sure there is room on the roster for nine rookies?” – RolloTo56021760

I agree with Rollo; it’s unlikely that nine rookies will stick with the 49ers.

Although they don’t have a pick in the first round, San Francisco has plenty of ammunition to move up and down the board to grab the players it covets.

“How much does Shanahan’s game plan change to profit from a triple threat quarterback?” – ovinator

It doesn’t need to change much.

While Trey Lance is exceptionally athletic, he’s a throw-first quarterback.

The best way to use Lance is for Shanahan to call the game similarly to what he’s done throughout his time with the 49ers. All he needs to change is throw in a few more throws coming off pocket movement to stress the defense.

The 49ers passing game under Shanahan has deep throws built into most plays. The quarterbacks he’s had before Lance were either unable or unwilling to take the shots, which will change.

Whatever you choose, Lance should not be used as a running back. The numbers bear this out. Lance averaged 8.5 yards per scramble in 2021 while averaging only 2.7 yards per rush on designed running plays.

Let the kid play quarterback. It’s what he does best.

“Elijah Mitchell is a solid back, but there were too many times the running game shut down for an extended time. Will they get a true burner to spell Mitchell?” – @ottomattick0

Losing Raheem Mostert only four plays into the 2021 season forced Kyle Shanahan to move Deebo Samuel into the backfield to provide a home run threat.

Part of what necessitated that move was the lack of downfield throws from the quarterback. Moving to Trey Lance will help with that.

Don’t sleep on Trey Sermon either. Sermon showed flashes during a rough rookie season, and the 49ers expect to see improvement in his second season.

The 49ers currently have only four halfbacks under contract: Mitchell, Sermon, JaMycal Hasty, and Jeff Wilson Jr. Look for them to add a running back late in the draft or shortly after. Running back is a position where San Francisco has done an excellent job identifying talent.

“If Eddie D was still the owner, how many Super Bowls would the team have?” – @AnthonyMem10

Five.

The invent of the salary cap was a game-changer. No longer were the 49ers able to stockpile talent as they had throughout the 80s and early 90s.

San Francisco last won a Super Bowl in 1994, the first year of the salary cap. They made several additions to the roster and pushed money to future years.

Over the remainder of DeBartolo’s ownership of the team, the 49ers advanced past the divisional round only once. In his final year as owner, 1999, the team finished 4-12 after losing Steve Young to a career-ending injury in the season’s third game.

“If Ricky Watters stayed a 49er, would we have one more Super Bowl win, and would he be in the Hall of Fame?” – @SwanSongNC

I don’t think so.

The Packers were just a better team than San Francisco in the mid-90s, with the big difference being the level of play on defense.

Green Bay just had the 49ers number during that time.

Regarding the Watters and the Hall of Fame, he benefitted from leaving San Francisco. Watters had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage in six consecutive years with Philadelphia and Seattle, and he was able to top that total only once during his time in San Francisco.

One last piece to consider, Mike Shanahan left San Francisco to become the head coach in Denver following the 1994 season. Shanahan did a terrific job of utilizing Watters’ unique skillset.

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