Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance each rushed for touchdowns in Kyle Shanahan’s new scheme as the 49ers steamrolled the Las Vegas Raiders in a 34-10 win at Levi’s Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The veteran and rookie signal-callers split duties in their one quarter of play under this experimental dual quarterback system. Shanahan said it wasn’t perfect, but overall liked what he saw, though said it’d probably be the last time we saw that many switches:
“I just wanted them to get live action. … We’ve done it in practice a couple of times and this is the last time before we’re going to get into the regular season, so it’s the last time we can have the opportunity to do it, so kind of wanted to do this game.”
Having two quarterbacks will always be an option and Shanahan wanted opposing defenses to prepare for it.
In the opening drive, Garoppolo would come on for a play and the very next snap, Lance would go in, then they’d switch again. Garoppolo said he though it felt weird at first, though he was pleased with the result:
“It was good. … There were two good jobs with it. [Their] defense was scrambling and it made it a very tough job on those guys. I thought it was pretty good.”
Garoppolo finished 4-for-7 for 64 yards and a diving touchdown in one quarter.
The first-team offense and defense played the first drives each. Thanks to the offensive line push, Raheem Mostert had a stellar game, showing flashes of the 2019 NFC championship with 53 yards on seven rushes in one drive.
“Our mentality is still the same in the running back room. … If we get the opportunity, we’re just going to flourish. We’re going to make those plays. We just have to keep it going and make sure we understand the offense and go out there and do our thing.”
The Niners ran all over the Raiders with 242 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Lance took sole control of the offense in the second and part of the third quarter. He threw some absolute darts, showed mobility when the pocket collapsed, and read his progression well.
Lance said he didn’t keep the ball as much because he took what the Raiders defense gave him:
“It’s what the reads dictated today. … That’s how they played us. That wanted me to hand the ball off –or at least that’s the way they played it.”
There were mistakes. Lance had trouble handling some snaps, had dropped passes and players not knowing the plays, but the rookie took responsibility for the miscue.
Lance showed flashes of what he can do in Shanahan’s offense. His athletic ability and strong arm forces defenses to honor the run-pass option. He finished the day 6-for-13 for 46 yards and punched in his rushing touchdown.
The San Francisco defense was disruptive, gathering three sacks and four tackles for losses even without Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. The Raiders didn’t play any starters.
On the bubble
Shanahan made it a point to get Jalen Hurd involved in the rushing and passing game. The third-year wide receiver was active for the first time in over two years after multiple injuries. For the 49ers, it was an encouraging sign. Shanahan said:
“I was glad that he could get out there and get through it. … I know some plays he’d like to have back. A couple drops there, it looked like, but I would consider it a success. It was his first time in a couple of years.”
Hurd was targeted six times and had four catches for 25 yards. He had a miscue in the backfield when he ran into Elijah Mitchell and dropped a perfectly thrown pass. It was a mixed performance, but he’s given himself a chance for the final roster.
Also competing for the final receiver spot is Jauan Jennings. He had a quiet game with one catch for 15 yards, showing solid route running ability and decent hands.
HaHa Clinton-Dix picked off Nathan Peterman late in the third quarter. The Raiders quarterback threw across to the left before Clinton-Dix returned it to the Vegas 11-yard line. The Niners signed the former first-rounder earlier this month.
The 49ers activated safety Jaquiski Tartt from the PUP earlier this week after a turf toe injury. He stepped off the field after hitting knees with an opposing player but felt great. Shanahan said it wasn’t anything serious and was happy with his performance, given his short week:
“He had a great two days of practice. … I didn’t want to have to play him as much, but we also had to find out where he was at for the 53 [man roster]. We know how much he can help us, but today was really like his third and a half practice.”
Veteran Travis Benjamin left the game in the third quarter with a concussion, according to Shanahan. He is scraping to make the final roster and his best chance is on special teams as a returner.
Unfortunately for Benjamin, Mitchell proceeded with a kick return for 45 yards at the 49ers 44-yard line.
Lance jammed his finger on Raider helmet, but said he wasn’t worried about it.
Following final roster cuts due Tuesday at noon, Week 1 of the 2021 NFL campaign begins for the 49ers in Detroit. They face former NFC West rival quarterback Jared Goff Sunday Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. in Ford Field for the season opener.