49ers mailbag: Did Shanahan know what he was doing with Garoppolo and Lance after all?

SANTA CLARA — A three-game win streak has the 49ers’ fans buzzing with playoff hope and never-ending quarterback chatter, so here are the highlights for this week’s mailbag via my Instagram and Twitter huddles:

Did Kyle Shanahan realize that keeping Trey Lance on the sideline (unless it’s garbage time) was overall better for the team’s psyche and morale? (@sportsdood27)

“It’s more about me,” Shanahan explained Monday. “Calling plays, we get into a rhythm attacking defenses and what fronts they’re playing, what coverages. Every play kind of plays off the next play. You get a feel, players do and I do, of what we’re going to do.

“What’s been hard on me, and I didn’t realize, is that when you bring in a quarterback with a different set of plays, it’s like the first play you’re seeing a new defense. They’re doing it completely to the plan of a runner at the position.

“So I don’t know what to anticipate with it, then I have to stay in it awhile to get a feel for that. When you go back, that feels off with the last guy. It kind of hurts my rhythm with what we’re getting.”

Translated: Shanahan doesn’t want to mess up his groove nor that of Jimmy Garoppolo and a finally-flowing offense. Lance remains a secret weapon, one that might be worth deploying if the offense stalls with Deebo Samuel out one to two weeks.

If Jimmy wins the Super Bowl: (a.) How likely is he to get traded; (b.) What would his trade value be? (@theewill_g)

Newsflash: Trading Garoppolo became the plan once they moved up in the draft for his eventual but not immediate successor. That said, it would be malpractice to jettison Garoppolo if he stays hot and ends the franchise’s 26-year Lombardi Trophy drought.

Now, if there is no championship ending, a trade is feasible, despite his $24 million salary in 2022. A thirsty suitor could ink him to a new deal rather than rent for 2022. His value climbs by the victory at this point. A playoff win (then a playoff loss) might recapture a first- or second-round offer. Long way to go until then.

Do the road warriors stay on the road between the next two away games, as they’ve done in the past? (@themiketorres)

No, they’ll have a quick trip up the coast Saturday to Seattle and return home Sunday night, then fly again five days later to Cincinnati. (Even though they’ve had Ohio layovers in past seasons, Youngstown is four hours northeast, and it’s not appealing for this leg of the schedule.) Check back if they make the playoffs, where a wild-card berth could mean a lot more business travel (see: 2013 season).

What are the chances for us to go to the playoffs? (@mig_renteria)

The 49ers currently have a 72 percent chance, according to fivethirtyeight.com, which a week ago predicted a 66 percent shot if they beat the Vikings. Winning Sunday in Seattle would pump the 49ers’ likelihood to 88 percent. Lose the next two at Seattle and Cincinnati and those chances dive to 40 percent.

Can the 49ers go on a 7-0 streak to make the playoffs? My guess is they get in at 12-5. (@britjones332)

My guess is they may even get in at 9-8, or a 3-3 finish from here.

What is the likelihood they really can finish 12-5? (@crocodiledandee)

That means this three-game win streak balloons to a nine-game spree. That isn’t happening, so brace for a loss or two or three down the stretch and then avoid the playoff-sky-is-falling fear.

Objectively, what seed do you see the 49ers getting if they make the playoffs? (@coldbruepodcast)

Check back at the Jan. 9 regular-season finale, when the 49ers visit the Rams that could determine their respective order with the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds. Then it’s likely off to the NFC East or NFC South champion in a wild-card match. (Beyond that, my Green Bay suite is booked for the divisional playoffs.)

Do you think maybe they can flex 49ers at Bengals (Dec. 12)? (@agent_oso712)

Highly unlikely, more so because that Sunday night date offers the Green Bay Packers and polarizing Aaron Rodgers hosting the Chicago Bears with NFC playoff implications. The Bengals deserve more prime-time games than their token Thursday nighter earlier this season. Another interconference game Dec. 12 that merits more consideration: Buffalo at Tampa Bay.

Update: The NFL flexed the 49ers-Bengals kickoff to 4:25 p.m. ET, thus allowing the 49ers’ bodies a better chance to adjust than for a 10 a.m. PT kickoff.

Why didn’t they activate Dee Ford? (@matty_maff)

They will make another run at it this week, provided his back cooperates. They only opened his Injured Reserve practice window Thursday. Having him chase after Russell Wilson this Sunday would make for a timely return. Nick Bosa has 11 sacks, while his teammates have 13 combined, with no one registering more than three, including Ford.

Why can’t Shanahan call plays for George Kittle? (@thebnjmn)

Like Sunday’s second snap when he broke open 25 yards down the middle but didn’t get targeted? Or have for the seldom-used Jauan Jennings take a reverse and consider throwing across the field to Kittle? That didn’t work Sunday, until Kittle cleverly drew a holding penalty on Patrick Peterson on a game-tying drive before halftime. Relax, Kittle had a three-game streak of scoring a touchdown before Sunday’s only reception (that set up a go-ahead touchdown).

Will Josh Norman get cut after getting so many penalties? (@mr.cotaallat)

Let’s pause, survey the depth chart and now proceed to answer: No. Norman didn’t even get benched Sunday. He’s been called for a team-high nine penalties, including Sunday’s twin bill featuring his fifth pass-interference call and third holding penalty. Two years ago, Richard Sherman also drew nine penalties (including four for pass interference, three for holding). Ahkello Witherspoon attracted six flags for pass interference in 2018.

That second loss to Arizona (31-17 at home, Nov. 7) hurts now more than ever. (@stressdfh77)

No, it hurt more back then. It was an alarming comedy of errors. And it was just the humbling experience and teaching moment needed for the current turnaround.

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