Kyle Shanahan: 49ers playbook not changing for Trey Lance; Jauan Jennings tough to cover

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Some expect the San Francisco 49ers offense to evolve with second-year quarterback Trey Lance at the helm. While that is probably true, it will not be by design. There won’t be a drastic change to the playbook. Instead, Lance can extend plays and potentially get the football further down the field for some explosive plays.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters before Saturday’s practice and was asked about the playbook. Is he considering changing it to take advantage of Lance’s unique athleticism?

“Not really at all,” Shanahan responded. “I mean, you do the same stuff, and you just got a couple of more elements. When you have the threat of a running quarterback, that can change defenses. And when you see how that changes them, then you adjust to that.

“We added stuff in last year. We worked on stuff. Even when you do stuff that seems different to everyone else, it’s the exact same play to the O-line. It’s the exact same play to the running back. It’s the exact same play to the receivers. But if they don’t account for him, then he gets to run. So it doesn’t really change as much as it seems.”

Mike McGlinchey, one of the anchors of the offensive line, doesn’t expect anything to change for him now that it is Lance, not Jimmy Garoppolo, at quarterback.

“All of our plans are the same,” McGlinchey said Friday on KNBR. “The way that we slide protection is the same. The way that we build out our protections is the same. And his spots are all the same. Now what he does with it after the snap, that’s not my concern. I can’t see him back there, so if he stays on that spot and something breaks, it breaks. … He’s a pretty special athlete, and looking at him, he definitely looks the part too.”

The wide receiver talk of training camp has focused primarily on Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Samuel finally signed his contract extension after a drama-filled offseason, and Aiyuk has developed into a headache for 49ers defensive backs practicing against him. One other wideout—Jauan Jennings—could make a leap in 2022, his third NFL season. Shanahan was asked how he evaluates wide receivers like Jennings coming out of college, finding diamonds in the rough.

“You’ve just got to watch how they separate versus people and how they move,” Shanahan said. “Jauan is a little unusual in his movement, so it doesn’t jump off to everyone, but if you watch him, he creates an edge on people every single play. And when he doesn’t, he never stops running. So he’s violent and big enough that he fights through everything.

“And then he has the hands, even when he’s covered, he’s stepping back to the wall, which was similar to [Kendrick Bourne] in that way. But Jauan is a little unorthodox in his movement, but I feel, if you talk to the corners out there, he’s been the toughest one to cover [other than Aiyuk].”

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