On Saturday night against the Packers, 49ers quarterback Trey Lance executed his first-ever slide. His coach was happy that Lance pulled it off.
“I was glad he did,” Shanahan told reporters on Monday. “That’s something the guys have to get used to. It seems like an easy thing, but it’s not as easy as people act, especially when you have a certain style your whole career. He went into games planning to do that last year too. Sometimes your personality and the nature of how you play the position takes over and you don’t do what you’re planning on doing, so it’s good to see him stick with the plan.”
Shanahan said that the coaching points haven’t changed when it comes to Lance protecting himself by sliding. And the 49ers realize the risks of losing a player to injury more than any other team, given issues with Jimmy Garoppolo that date back to Week Three of the 2018 season, when he opted to deliver a blow with his shoulder at the sideline — and tore his ACL in the process.
Sliding isn’t easy for quarterbacks. Many of them are wired to gain every yard, and to never shy away from contact. But it’s always better for a team to have its best players available at all times. Especially its best quarterback.
The 49ers have struggled to achieve that level of availability in recent years. The challenge continues to be avoiding as many hits as possible. The more a player is hit, the more likely that he’ll eventually be hurt.