To retrieve and explain the phase lag between current speed and suspended sediment concentration (SSC), erosion, deposition, and advection were isolated as primary processes of sediment movement in a three-dimensional model. The response time was proved to be one of the reasons for the phase lag, as time is needed for suspension to diffuse from bottom to surface. A fitted Shields diagram was introduced into the model to reflect the relationship between SSC and shear stress, between shear stress and critical shear stress, as well as between SSC and critical shear stress for erosion. It takes some time for shear stress to increase to the critical value after high or low tide, and this was proved to be an important contributor to the phase lag. Overall, the variation of vertically integrated SSC is influenced by erosion mass flux, deposition mass flux, and advection flux. The phase pattern of erosion mass flux is consistent with the pattern of current if there was no wave action. However, phase difference is produced by the influence of deposition mass flux and advection. In this study, SSC peak/trough mostly occurred near the moment erosion mass flux approximately equaled deposition mass flux and would be impacted by advection. The time required for instantaneous variation of suspension to get to 0 after current peak/trough represents the phase lag between current speed and SSC.