The shadow of Jimmy Garoppolo grew larger in Week 1.
Trey Lance and the 49ers offense struggled for most of the day in brutal conditions in a 19-10 season-opening loss to the Bears.
Lance showcased his significant arm talent and running ability at times, but far too often was inaccurate in the upset defeat.
“What do you think he did? He ain’t do s–t,” Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said after the game. “We made him play quarterback. We know he hurt us in the run game with his feet and everybody knows at some point he’s going to run and make a play.
“But I feel like we had to really make him play quarterback. Like I said, he’s still a young guy and I think he’ll end up being a good player for them. But it’s early. He has to go through it. I feel like we did exactly what I said we would: make him prove himself as a quarterback.”
The 49ers announced early in the offseason that Lance — entering his second season — would be the starting quarterback and tried in vain to trade Garoppolo, who led the team to the NFC Championship game last year. Instead, they kept Garoppolo on a re-worked contract and have him locked in as Lance’s backup.
The concern with the decision was that keeping Garoppolo in San Francisco would put pressure on Lance and increase calls to turn back to the veteran if he faltered.
“Made too many mistakes,” said Lance, who finished the game completing 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception. “Defense kept us in the game. Had a big miss to Tyler Kroft in the end zone. Tried to throw a perfect ball. Should have put it right on him. He was wide open.
“Turn the ball over. Took a sack that knocked us out of field goal range. Miss Deebo [Samuel] on third down. Missed another third down to Jauan [Jennings]. Just too many mistakes. A lot of stuff to clean up for sure.”
One game in a torrential downpour will not lead to a quarterback change in San Francisco. However, Kyle Shanahan’s team entered the season with Super Bowl expectations and loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. And performances like Sunday will do nothing slow down the questions around the quarterback situation.
Shanahan was asked in a KNBR interview Friday if bringing back Garoppolo showed a lack of faith in Lance.
“Guys, this is Trey’s first year starting for us,” Shanahan said. “We were letting go a $24 million starting quarterback to do that. We got him back for a backup price. I don’t think that has to do with not having faith in your starter.
“That never would have happened if it just didn’t come to fruition there. We were very fortunate that happened. So we obviously were willing to go a different direction and we ended up having something fall into our lap.”