You’ve heard the opinions of just about everyone regarding Trey Lance this week as he’s in line for his second career start. 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed his second straight practice Thursday. However, all signs point to Lance under center Sunday against the Texans.
Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel were the latest members of the Niners to offer praise and insight on Lance. First, Ryans answered what’s changed with Lance during the past month:
“Yes. I think Trey has done an outstanding job over the past month or so. You can definitely see the improvement. He’s done a really good job of being more aggressive, taking shots on us and really threading the ball in some really tight coverage.
So he’s done a really good job as far as challenging us, making it definitely harder for our guys to defend. I was definitely encouraged by what he’s done over the past month or so. It looks really well, so I’m pleased with Trey.”
Hearing how Lance has grown as a player is more valuable than lip service saying he’s improved. Here’s to hoping that aggressiveness carries over to the game. But, more than anything, I want to see how Kyle Shanahan alters his play-calling with Lance, if at all.
McDaniel credited the overlap of other teams running similar concepts to the 49ers and Lance having to go through the duties of a quarterback, such as telling people where to go, using a cadence, and distributing the ball against man or zone coverage.
McDaniel spoke about what’s changed with Lance behind the scenes:
“Well, it’s just deliberate practice. You’re going each and every day. Trey’s a very smart dude, and so he takes coaching very well. You want to be specific because he’ll hear everything you say, and he will try to apply it.
So, it’s just deliberate practice day in, day out. We have direct coaching points that we’ve, over time, kind of established as our core fundamental principles. So it’s just really day in, day out saying, ‘Okay, we want you to play with the base better, improve that.’
And so, he diligently does it and applies it every time possible. And then it’s a matter of time with every player, every single player. It doesn’t who you are, whether you’re Trent Williams or a rookie, you’re going to have lapses in technique. And that’s our job as coaches is to always be aware of it, always be present and never miss an opportunity to help a young player get better.”
Coachable has been consistent when Lance’s teammates and coaches have spoken about him this week. McDaniel added that Lance is a “charismatic, humble, young kid.”
When asked how McDaniel has seen Lance evolve as a leader, here’s what he had to say:
“The NFL season is almost like two seasons of college football. So what’s the difference between being a freshman in college and a junior? I think people really respect his work ethic. That’s earned, not given, and you feel that as a player, and you allow it to all hang out.
He’s really just another player on the team, and on this team, there’s no room for individuals or ‘I’s. It’s all about what’s the best for the 49ers, and the way he diligently tries to work at his craft, I think, is very impactful to his teammates.
And much like we were talking about with Brandon Aiyuk, kind of showing his personality. That’s kind of what we’ve experienced with Trey and understanding that players want him to lead and him actually embracing that. And you can hear it in his voice. You can hear it in how he handles his teammates, it’s been cool to watch.”
We’ll get to see what’s different with Lance in no time, and I can’t wait to see if what everyone else is saying about him is true.