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Mcdaniel explains how learning the new terminology has been like a foreign language for the rookies

Pittsburgh Steelers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel made his media debut on Wednesday where he spoke about the incoming rookie class and gave his thoughts on Trey Lance’s progress early on at OTAs.

McDaniel was asked between the two rookie Trey’s, what would be the biggest step forward for both of them. McDaniel said it’s learning the verbiage the Niners use:

“The biggest step that they had during this camp? It’s really just, in football, you have an entire language that you have to learn when you go to a new team. And so operating, it’s really like a foreign language to them. So, being able to step in a huddle hear the verbiage and go execute their assignment, that’s the biggest step forward that they took. Just literally being out there and being able to operate.

And once they do that, then there’s a million things that you can coach them up on, which is the value of OTAs. We can get them an idea of what they need to be focusing on moving forward so that when we build in training camp and throughout the season, that they can perform at their best.”

The good news for Lance is that he’s used to the long, west-coast terminology that the 49ers use to call their plays.

Ohio State’s playbook can get wordy, too. For example, one of their plays is called “deuce LT LIZ A-350 Y-Stick.” You have the formation first, then the pass protection, and where the line slides, followed by the route concept.

That’s not coming close to a Kyle Shanahan play-call, however. “Bunch RT Nasty Y LT 2 Jet X Chevy Z Husker” is a routine play-call in the 49ers offense. That tells you the wide receivers are bunched together to the right in a “nasty” split, meaning they’re closer to the line of scrimmage.

Then, the “Y,” aka George Kittle, motions to the left. “2 Jet” is the pass protection, and the “X Chevy Z Husker” just tells the X and Z wide receivers what to run. While it sounds complicated, there are just multiple tags that make it easier for each receiver.

Still, that’s a lot to learn. That’s why it’s critical for rookies to go through OTAs and learn the playbook not just with mental reps but going out there and practice hearing and learning on the fly.

McDaniel was asked what Shanahan’s level of excitement was knowing that Lance is a moldable ball of clay. McDaniel praised Lance for being coachable:

“I think Kyle gets excited to coach players because that is, he’s the foremost expert on doing so. And, it’s all about the relationship with the human beings.

I think we’re all very excited and fired up about where Trey is in terms of being coachable, wanting to be coached, his expectation for himself. And, whether it’s a quarterback, a center or a running back, all you can ask for as a coach, is that someone is embracing the process. And, I think that fires him up more than anything.”

McDaniel also added that Shanahan is open and listens to ideas from the entire coaching staff.

I wonder if he does the same with his quarterbacks. Like, if Jimmy Garoppolo or Lance like a play in a certain scenario, or mention something to the coaching staff leading up to a game week, if Shanahan would put a play in that his quarterbacks wanted to run.

That could go a long way in the trust department. Either way, Lance being coachable in the early stages is a great sign for the 49ers. There is a lot to digest in this offense, and if you’re not willing to adapt, you will struggle.