SANTA CLARA, Calif — Both of the San Francisco 49ers’ top two quarterbacks — Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance — will play in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their workloads, however, will be quite different.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that the plan for the exhibition opener is to have Garoppolo and the starting offense begin the game and play a series before calling it a night. That group will then turn it over to Lance and the backup offense for the rest of the first half.
The hope is to get Garoppolo and the starting offense a chance to get some live game reps under their belt and then allow Lance and the backups to play about 30 snaps before giving way to fellow quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Josh Rosen.
Shanahan is looking forward to seeing how Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, fares in a game situation where he has to get play calls and command a huddle without the safety net provided by practice.
“I’m just excited to see him play like everyone else is,” Shanahan said. “It’s fun to watch quarterbacks go out there for the first time. But I don’t get nervous for the person or anything like that because I think it’s fun to watch. I know no one is going to remember how his first preseason game is, but they will the next day. That’s all right.”
That Lance will continue with the second-string offense falls in line with how the rest of training camp has gone. True to Shanahan’s statements to open camp, Garoppolo has taken all but two reps with the starting offense through the first 13 practices. Lance took the other two — both designed runs that are in specifically for Lance and that Shanahan wanted the starting offensive line to get an opportunity to practice.
Shanahan said last week that Lance will eventually get some reps with the starting offense and that Lance is going to play this season, at least situationally.
For Lance, Saturday’s exhibition game will be his first live action since Oct. 3, 2020 — a span of 315 days between games and the first time he will play in front of fans in that time as well.
“Oh, (I’m) super excited,” Lance said. “Excited to go out and compete with this locker room of guys. And kind of at the same time, everything’s new. … So, just being able to get used to everything — everything from the hotel the night before the game to pregame warmup. Everything’s going to be new, but at the same time, football is football.”
Shanahan said he hopes Lance doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.
“I think Trey is going to make the team so he doesn’t have to go out there and freak out about that,” a smiling Shanahan said. “He knows a lot of eyes will be on him. Sometimes those guys want to go out there and make some plays and show everyone what to be excited about. I just always try to tell them, ‘It’s just like practice except they can hit you, so just calm down and just do your job like you try to do every day out here.’ Because that’s what quarterback is going to be every single day of your life until you’re done playing.”
While many of the 49ers starters will play against the Chiefs, Shanahan said some will be held out. That includes defensive ends Nick Bosa (left ACL) and Dee Ford (back), both of whom are working their way back from injuries. Wide receiver Jalen Hurd (right ACL) will also be held out as he continues his recovery process.