Preseason football shouldn't matter too much. The San Francisco 49ers sat plenty of key players out of precaution in their preseason finale, as they've done through this month.
But new starting quarterback Trey Lance played, and he didn't play all that well.
Lance has just been OK this preseason. He has missed passes. He hasn't looked great. That might mean nothing, but it continued Thursday.
Lance underthrew two passes, including one to a well-covered Deebo Samuel down the field, on the 49ers' first drive against the Houston Texans. He was under pressure at times, in part because fantastic left tackle Trent Williams didn't play. It's not like head coach Kyle Shanahan is emptying the playbook for a third preseason game. It still was an unimpressive performance.
Lance finished Thursday night 7-of-11 for 49 yards. Lance's three drives produced zero points. He looked indecisive when he had time to throw, and inaccurate at times. Lance was 4-of-5 for 92 yards in the preseason opener (he didn't play last week), but 76 yards came on a deep throw to wide-open Danny Gray. Take that away — it was more of a highlight for Gray, who blew past the defense — and Lance finishes the preseason 10-of-15 for a scant 65 yards.
It's preseason and nobody should be freaking out. Lance has a ton of talent as the third overall pick of last year's draft and did fine in his two starts last season. But he's replacing Jimmy Garoppolo for a team that led in the fourth quarter of last season's NFC championship game, and expectations are high. It would have at least calmed some nerves to see Lance have a lights-out preseason. Other than the long pass to Gray, there wasn't much to get excited about.
There's no reason to worry about Lance yet. It'll be different when it's the regular season and Williams is at left tackle and guys like Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle are on the field with Lance the whole time getting open and catching passes. The next time we see Lance will be Week 1 at the Chicago Bears. If he struggles then, that will be the right time to have some concern.