Trey Lance’s inexperience and elite abilities were on display

On Trey Lance’s second pass on Sunday, the 49ers rookie quarterback faked a transfer to running back Elijah Mitchell, rolled to his right and left full-back Kyle Juszczyk wide open around the line of scrimmage.

However, Lance did not put his feet down and used the loop pass with the short arms, which Juszczyk jumped off after stopping to bend and catch it around his ankles. Lance’s inaccuracy turned a big potential gain into a 3-yard run in the 49ers’ 23-7 win over the Texans.

The pass was part of Lance’s uneven opening on his first start at Levi’s Stadium. And it was reminiscent of his first regular-season pass to Levi’s: In Week 4, after replacing injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo in a loss to Seattle, Lance’s opening attempt nodded a few yards from George Kittle after Lance rolled right and had his end tight all by himself around the line of scrimmage.

Another similarity between those two games: Lance, 21, bounced back into each and started making shots that few NFL QBs can deliver after struggling with you and I could finish.

His passer rating against the Seahawks: 117.1.

His passer rating against the Texans: 116.0.

Yes, on Sunday, like he did against Seattle, Lance threw two late-game touchdowns to cap off a performance that showcased both his inexperience and his elite abilities.

Lance, for example, has rarely gone through multiple progressions before aiming for a wide receiver on his 23 attempts, which is common for young QBs whose ability to process defenses develops.

Lance, a rookie, greets 49ers fans as he leaves the field after his second start in the NFL, a 23-7 victory over the Houston Texans.

Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

Plus, he threw two near-picks when a cornerback and linebacker read his eyes. Finally, he watched Kittle on his second quarter interception on the left sideline, failing to see wide receiver Deebo Samuel open wide, unnecessarily waving his right hand, deep to the right side.

But on those shots when Lance took a three-step fall, immediately located an open target, flipped over and fired? Wow. And: Holy smokes.

Lance said he finally settled on the 49ers’ last practice in the first half. And this field march began with two completions armed with bazooka. First, he whistled a 17-yard finish to Samuel on an incline. Two snaps later, Lance whipped a 27-yard dart to clear Brandon Aiyuk.

And Lance continued to cook after halftime. His best pass might have been his first attempt in the third quarter, hitting a pitch in stride, 3rd and 6th at Aiyuk between two defensemen, leading to a 43-yard reception.

On this play, linebacker Christian Kirksey – patrolling midfield – read Lance’s eyes and rushed over to Aiyuk, but that didn’t matter: the pass went from Lance’s fingertips to the hands of Aiyuk in several nanoseconds (unofficially).

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel last week called Garoppolo “the best pitchers on the planet.” And Lance made a patented Garoppolo throw with a flip flop on the last play of the first quarter.

On the 49ers’ 30-yard line first try, Lance rolled left, found himself at the 18-yard line with defensive lineman Jacob Martin in pursuit and threw a 12-yard finish, which resulted in traveled 23 yards, to wide receiver Trent Sherfield along the left sideline.

A sign of Lance’s progress in the game – and the nervousness gone – appeared in the third quarter on his first touchdown pass. He rolled right, opened Mitchell wide around the line of scrimmage (sounds familiar to you?)

Other observations related to Lance in the win over Houston:

• Lance completed 4 of 5 passes for 91 yards on the third down in the second half, recording four first downs.

His most notable conversion on the third down came one play before his touchdown pass to Mitchell, with the 49ers down 7-3 and facing 3rd and 3rd on the Houston 14-yard line.

Lance’s first reading was Kittle, who was double covered in the middle as the pocket began to crumble. Lance, who often looked harassed under the pressure early in the game, responded by drifting to his right as running back JaMycal Hasty came out of the backfield on a delayed run and did something I didn’t. Did not fully appreciate during the match: he jumped and threw a pass in the air, leading Hasty perfectly towards the left sideline, for a gain of 6 meters.

• Lance did not receive any of his 23 passes on the line of scrimmage. And this may be a sign of its evolution.

He entered Sunday’s game with five assists in his first 48 career attempts – a huge number. Garoppolo, for example, has managed five assists in 409 attempts this season.

As Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young explained, slapping passes are a sign that a QB is looking at their targets, giving defensive linemen a head start.

Lance was not perfect in that area on Sunday, but there is no advice to indicate that there has been any improvement.

• Lance’s numbers for the 49ers’ first four scoreless practices weren’t horrible: he had completed 5 of 6 for 47 yards with an interception.

But it’s fair to say the Texans weren’t impressed. It was telling that Houston called a time out with 1:51 left in the second quarter after Samuel’s first try went to no avail.

Simply put, the Texans, owners of the NFL’s 30th-ranked defense, were confident they would stop the 49ers and get the ball back before halftime. In the end, they were right: The 49ers were forced to kick, but SF still got another possession before half-time because the Texans followed up with their own three-way and away training.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan had a confusing game decision late in the game.

The Situation: The 49ers were leading 20-7 with two minutes left, facing Houston’s third and third from the 20-yard line, and the Texans had no more time-outs.

Shanahan’s Call: He had Lance execute a QB power on a right tackle, and the rookie landed a shot from 234-pound linebacker Neville Hewitt at the end of a 2-yard run.

It has gone largely unnoticed, but Lance, of course, only plays because Garoppolo has a thumb injury that is hampering his availability for Sunday’s high-stakes regular season finale against the Rams.

Can you imagine the outcry if Shanahan’s decision to unnecessarily endanger Lance meant Nate Sudfeld had to start in Los Angeles with a playoff berth on the line?

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Eric_Branch