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Trey Lance to Make 1st Career Start for 49ers vs. Cardinals

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2021

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 3: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on October 3, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 28-21. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance will get the first start of his career Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals with veteran starter Jimmy Garoppolo ruled out.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

#49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is out and TE George Kittle is doubtful for Sunday against the #Cardinals, per coach Kyle Shanahan. Trey Lance time.

Garoppolo didn't practice all week after injuring his right calf in the 49ers' 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4.

Lance, who has made cameo appearances this season, came into that game and performed adequately. He completed nine of 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while adding 41 rushing yards, good for second on the team behind running back Trey Sermon.

Friday's practice was seen as a critical test for Garoppolo, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) is once again not practicing, per reporters on the scene. GM John Lynch had said it was critical that he practice today. So… Trey Lance should get the start for SF.

Garoppolo has struggled with injuries since joining the 49ers in 2017. An ACL injury kept him out for much of 2018, and he missed 10 games last season with an ankle injury. His performance this season has been solid with five touchdowns and two interceptions in four games, but he hasn't been dynamic enough for the team to risk aggravating his calf injury.

Lance, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, will get his first chance to play with a full week of practice as the starting QB. His ability to run the football adds another dimension to the 49ers offense against one of the league's tougher defenses this year. The Cardinals rank 11th in passing yards allowed (221.5) and ninth in points allowed per game (21.3).

Lance was up and down against the Seahawks with most of his yards coming on a 76-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Deebo Samuel in broken coverage by the Seahawks. He'll need to show more consistency in the passing game to keep up with the red-hot Cardinals offense. It's a task made even tougher if tight end George Kittle is unavailable.

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Sunday's game is critical for the 49ers. They are third in the NFC West at 2-2, while the division-leading Cardinals are 4-0.

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