The San Francisco 49ers stayed alive in the playoff race thanks to rookie quarterback Trey Lance. Although the Houston Texans weren't a very admirable opponent, Lance took care of business and led the Niners to a 23-7 win while starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo recovers from a right thumb injury.
Lance, the third overall pick from the previous draft, completed 16 of 23 pass attempts en route to throwing for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He added 31 rushing yards to his stat line and took the win in his second career start. Lance credited his receivers for making his life easier. Elijah Mitchell rushed for 119 yards, more than the entire Texans backfield.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan touted Lance's ball security and decision-making as reasons for why he had a strong game.
49ers Kyle Shanahan on Trey Lance:
Did some real good things. Beside the bad interception, he protected the ball real well and that was a big thing going into game. He was very efficient. The play at the end was huge and for the most part he made good decisions throwing the ball.
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) January 3, 2022
Although this is a matter to decide in the offseason, Lance's play shows why the 49ers have a quarterback controversy to address. Garoppolo has been decent this season but Lance represents the future of the team, which is built to succeed regardless of who is quarterback thanks to their offensive weapons like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle and defensive stars like Nick Bosa.
For now, though, the 49ers will enjoy the victory and prepare for next week. They will have to beat the Los Angeles Rams for a chance at clinching a playoff berth. The Rams, though, will likely play at full strength in order to secure the NFC West title.