Extreme sensations are usually harmful and the excessive confidence of the San Francisco 49ers in Trey Lance and the mistrust that the Denver Broncos showed in Russell Wilson can mark the fate of both franchises for the rest of the NFL season that is just beginning.
The first game on the schedule for the 49ers and Broncos, against the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, respectively, looked favorable on paper, but reality dealt both of them a serious blow as they suffered losses of the type that can affect playoff seeding. or even impact his postseason qualification.
49ers and the excessive confidence in Lance
The matchup with the Bears and the matchup with the Seahawks in Week 2 seemed to offer coach Kyle Shanahan an ideal period to help Lance adjust to the responsibility of running the offense for a team that is set up to win now.
In the last three seasons, San Francisco has made it to the Super Bowl once and came within a hair’s breadth of another with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. The 49ers’ window of opportunity to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy is wide open, but it could start to close and a quarterback with just three games as an NFL starter could cause that window to close in a hurry.
The Bears did their homework defensively by making Lance play quarterback by forcing him to beat them through the air and the second-year quarterback missed. While the 49ers were undisciplined (12 penalties, three third-down defenders and two of them kept Chicago’s attacks alive that ended in points), Lance made mistakes that also influenced the development of the game.
Lance flew a pass to Tyler Kroft that would have been a touchdown for San Francisco had he connected and missed others on third downs; his inexperience caused him to take a sack that put the 49ers out of field goal range and despite having enough protection in the bag, he threw a rushed pass that ended up being intercepted.
The trust of Shanahan and GM John Lynch is in Lance, but patience can quickly run out if the second-year quarterback continues to struggle with execution, especially considering the 49ers are ready to go deep and win it all.
The odds vs. Russell Wilson
In the modern NFL, a mobile quarterback like Russell Wilson must be able to gain five yards on the ground or on a pass. This is why it’s hard to understand why Broncos rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett decided not to use his $165 million guaranteed quarterback in the defining moment of Monday night’s game.
It’s also a reality that in the modern NFL, analytics play a big role in coaching decisions, and in his first experience leading a team, it was no different with Nathaniel.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Denver had a 30 percent chance of beating the Seahawks on the 64-yard field goal attempt and a 29 percent chance on fourth down.
It should be noted that at that moment, Nathaniel’s inexperience and his mismanagement of the game clock played a key role: with his three timeouts, the Broncos let 42 seconds run and when the clock reached 20, they called timeout to decide go for the field goal. With 1:02 remaining at the end of the play on third down, Denver’s odds of winning were higher, but they decreased as the game clock ticked down until the odds were slightly higher on a field goal attempt.
The numbers don’t lie, but the timing and feel of the game demanded that Wilson be the one with the chance to keep the Broncos alive and get at least five yards closer to kicker Brandon McManus with two timeouts still available.
Nathaniel leaned toward the odds, but the feel and moments of a game are a skill less and less wielded and understood by the new generation of head coaches.
That lack of confidence in the players can damage the atmosphere in the locker room and, in the case of the Broncos, the relationship between Nathaniel and Wilson and for the quarterback is one more experience in which he is the protagonist of a decision contrary to what “ the little book” indicates for certain moments (remember the intercepted pass in Super Bowl XLIX in a scoring situation).