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Trey Lance is really strong: Three plays to prove it

In his first start, the future of the franchise demonstrated the many ways that he sets himself apart from a traditional quarterback. Most obviously? His strength.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports

So much of the discussion around Trey Lance coming out of college revolved around his accuracy, processing, and lack of playing time. Some of these narratives have born themselves out to be relevant as he adjusts to the NFL, and others have proven to be nothing more than conjecture with some less than wholesome undertones.

An area that remained undisputed by all parties during this frenzied time of analysis, overanalysis, and over-overanalysis was Lance’s pure, raw strength on the football field. He’s listed at just under 6’4” and 226 pounds, with some room to fill out even more. However, he notably displayed his power in tandem with speed on designed runs that featured him shedding would-be tacklers, like a dog’s fur all over your sofa.

One awe-inspiring feat of strength involved him flattening a linebacker with an expertly deployed truck stick. However, the flip side of the coin was that everyone also agreed he wouldn’t be able to sustain, let alone dole out, such hits against competition higher than the FCS.

And in many ways, that lesson seems to have already been learned when after Sunday’s game, it was revealed Lance suffered a knee sprain, which should thankfully only keep him sidelined 1-2 weeks. A relatively minor hiccup, falling on a bye week, should be enough of a wake-up call to keep him from trying to single-handedly throw his body in front of a moving train every play for the win.

All that can be true, yet, I can’t get around it; I love the competitiveness, the fire, the total reckless abandon with which he played this past Sunday. So, even if it isn’t “sustainable,” I wanted to take a quick second to appreciate just how dang strong this man is.

ENDZONE RUN

The first play to highlight is his goal-line collision with Isaiah Simmons. However, upon further inspection, I was even more impressed/horrified to see the third overall pick torpedoing himself headlong into not one but two defenders, as inside linebacker Tanner Vallejo was also swarming to make the stop.

Undoubtedly, Lance made the right choice to scramble with every route covered in front of him, but the right call can be negated by a good play any day. That’s what happened when Simmons made a heck of a play covering Mitchell until the absolute last second before coming up to meet Lance at the goal line.

In the future, I think you’d want to see Lance try to string that out further to the pylon and try to get in at the corner, as opposed to challenging a pair of 230+ pound LBs to a game of chicken. Until then, it was a gutsy move by a guy who’s used to being able to run over a second-level player in the open field.

This play stood out, obviously, as a missed opportunity after a successful drive for the rookie. But, beyond that, it struck me how Simmons needed a few extra beats on the turf, and a visit to the blue medical tent, before returning to action in the second half. But you look at the tape, and Lance pops right back up. The dude is built like a tank.

TRENT WILLIAMS KNOCKDOWN

This here was a minor case of friendly fire. With four minutes left in the third quarter, Shanahan dialed up a run for Lance designed for him to follow Kyle Juszczyk and a pulling Dan Brunskill to the left side, as Trent Williams got downfield to block a linebacker. Everything went off beautifully, and they ripped off a nice chunk of eight yards on first down, which you’d take roughly a million times out of a million.

The flexing of muscles comes at the very end of the play when Lance, looking for extra yards, attempts to heave himself into a safety and, by extension, an unsuspecting Trent Williams. Unfortunately, the All-Pro left tackle just kinda happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as his quarterback flung himself forward and into his side.

For most quarterbacks, running into the brick wall that is the 320-pound mountain of a man might actually turn them into dust. Not so for Trey Lance, who sends the big fella flying, at least two or three more yards. He definitely appears to have been aided by Williams being slightly off-balance, but still, this is no small thing.

By the laws of physics or some scientific thing, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s what makes those little contraptions on people’s desks with the silver balls on strings bounce back a forth when you let one go. So, just imagine how much force it would take to knock over Trent Williams, and understand that Trey Lance basically packs the punch of a silver-plated boulder.

DRAGGING A MAN WITH ONE LEG AND NO HELMET

Perhaps, there was no greater all-heart, all-grit, all-determination play on Sunday than this measly two-yard run by Trey Lance. On an RPO, he makes the right call to keep it and bounces outside with the football. Reading the situation, cornerback Jalen Thompson comes with a head of steam to wrap up Lance.

First, the quarterback stiff-arms the smaller player into the ground, like a big brother doing whatever it takes to score one more bucket over his younger sibling in a game of pickup basketball. Then, when Thompson takes hold of his calf, Lance just keeps pumping his legs until Tanner Vallejo arrives on the scene, knocking off his helmet.

Does that stop Lance? Absolutely not. With the Thompson still wrapped around his leg, and no headgear, Lance just keeps driving forward and successfully drags the defender another four yards with two massive strides. I know corners seem small next to most other players on the field, but let me assure you this is not a small man.

Thompson weighs in around 190, and Lance yanked him forward like a sack of potatoes. Again, it’s a kind of athleticism that’s actually hard to process in real-time. Now, obviously, I don’t think this is a play that anyone wants to see out of Lance on a regular basis, especially his mom, as you can see in the clip, but it goes to show what kind of mentality and physical tools that the young signal-caller is working with. Once he develops and starts to protect himself a little more, the sky’s the limit.