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Gold Standard: How to tell if Trey Lance is seeing the field better vs. the Texans

Don’t look at the arm, look at the eyes

One of the most common criticisms of Trey Lance during the pre-draft process and after his lone start against the Arizona Cardinals is that he throws too many fastballs. As Chris Simms put it, “he only has one club in his golf bag.” While Trey has thrown a lot of lasers this year, it’s not because of a problem with his arm. It’s because of a problem with his eyes.

Trey can make all of the throws. Even in just his one start against Arizona, there are numerous examples of Lance taking something off of the ball and getting a completion. There are at least 11 completions in this video alone that show him shaping the trajectory of the ball to help the receiver make the catch. That isn’t what hurt Lance against Arizona.

As I explained in today’s Gold Standard podcast, sometimes the reason that Trey throws the ball so hard is that he is seeing the throwing windows and the open receivers just a tick later than he should be seeing them. As a result, he throws the ball harder to make up for being a bit behind schedule. That’s to be expected when you’re a 21-year-old rookie who is coming out of North Dakota State and hasn’t played football much since 2019.

When I am watching the game on Sunday, I’ll be looking to see how many times Lance has to fire one in there because he was just a beat late with his eyes. In a Kyle Shanahan offense, receivers usually have a lot of room to operate, so rocket balls aren’t essential most of the time. If Trey’s development really is coming along the way, we’ve been told. He won’t need to shoot lasers into a ton of really tight windows because he’ll know where the open guy is going to be.

At the start of the year, I never would have imagined that the Week 17 game against the Texans would be this fascinating, but here we are. The 49ers could potentially clinch a playoff spot on Sunday with a win (and help), and their prized draft pick is making his second professional start. In a perfect world, he’d light up the scoreboard with 300+ yards and four touchdown passes, but I’d settle for hitting the easy plays without any turnovers. Hopefully, Lance’s field vision has improved from earlier in the year, and it will allow us to see the incredible arm talent he has.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • Why Jimmy Garoppolo might not be able to return this season
  • What can Kyle Shanahan learn from Lance’s first start?
  • Why the Texans might not be as bad as you think they are