Kyle Shanahan plans to shake up his quarterback rotation in the second exhibition game for the San Francisco 49ers.
Shanahan said Wednesday that the Niners are planning to give Sam Darnold most of the first half snaps on Saturday night at home against Denver and let Trey Lance come in after that in a reversal of the rotation from last week’s exhibition game at Las Vegas.
Shanahan said he wouldn’t make the final decision on the rotation until after the end of the practice week, when he will also decide whether Brock Purdy and the other starters will get any time.
Purdy is working his way back from offseason elbow surgery and is set to practice three straight days this week for the first time since the operation in March.
Purdy’s arm strength has looked back to normal in training camp, but he has struggled with interceptions in practice, including throwing two more during team drills Wednesday.
Purdy threw just two interceptions in eight starts last season.
“One thing Brock does is he lets it rip,” Shanahan said. “He’s not worried about anything else. Especially not worried about people counting his interceptions at practice and stuff. That doesn’t mean they’re all right, but I do like him letting it rip, and I like him learning from things that he can’t get away with. I think our defense got their hands on a lot of balls, not just Brock’s. But I definitely want our quarterbacks to cut down on them, but I also want them to make real throws and when they make mistakes to learn from them.”
Purdy is entrenched as the starter after leading the Niners to seven straight wins and a trip to the NFC title game in his first eight starts before getting injured against Philadelphia.
Shanahan said the battle for the No. 2 job is still a competition between Lance and Darnold.
Lance struggled in his first preseason game against the Raiders, taking four sacks and throwing two near interceptions — including one that bounced into teammate Ross Dwelley’s hands for a fortuitous touchdown.
That has led to increased criticism from outside the organization about whether Lance is a bust after San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft him third overall in 2021.
Lance started two games in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo as a rookie and then two games last season before going down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Now he’s competing for a backup job, but Shanahan said he’s done a good job tuning out the outside noise.
“Trey is extremely smart, very socially aware,” he said. “He knows how the world works. He does his best, which I think he does a damn good job of trying to block all that out and just focus on getting better. I think that’s what he has done so far.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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