At least through one preseason game, the San Francisco 49ers’ post-Jimmy Garoppolo era looks promising. Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, did just about everything the team could have asked of him in limited snaps, leading two scoring drives and capping off his appearance with a 76-yard touchdown to receiver Danny Gray.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings return Kick Cousins for his fifth year as the starting signal-caller but will operate with a new play-caller. Kevin O’Connell, hired as the team’s new head coach this offseason, will handle those responsibilities. So far, however, second-year quarterback Kellen Mond has seen nearly all the preseason action, completing nine of his 14 passes last week for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Lance should see a longer run than he did a week ago. The three-play, 77-yard scoring drive severely cut into the second-year quarterback’s workload. Perhaps he’ll hit more bombs and have a short evening, but a larger sample size seems more likely.
Gray probably also earned himself more work. Hip and back soreness could affect his availability, but otherwise, expect him to see work alongside Lance and perhaps even after.
Which 49ers will play, expected inactives
The original plan was for Trey Lance to play in the first and third preseason game and sit out the third after two scrimmages with the Vikings during the week. That plan isn’t set in stone though.
UPDATE: This is the full list of 49ers not expected to play vs. the Vikings
Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 last week but might not have taken the field for Saturday’s preseason matchup anyway. Sean Mannion will probably start for the Vikings with Mond taking over at some point. After a lost rookie season, Mond has finally shown a flash of the promise that made him a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers will offer his biggest test yet, at least among preseason opponents.
Three other young skill-position players should see more work this weekend for the Vikings. Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette continues to battle for a larger role in the offense. In the backfield, Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler looked impressive last week and, with more progress, could push Alexander Mattison for a backup role.
Which Vikings will play, expected inactives