During an episode on Sportscenter Sunday morning, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler spoke about the San Francisco 49ers and what their intentions with Trey Lance were this offseason. The early focus the team had was to get Lance ready for training camp. To do so, the Niners focused on their No. 3 overall picks mechanics:
“I’m told San Fran spent much of the OTAs and minicamp working on Trey Lance’s mechanics, making sure things were compact. And the reason is they wanted to get that down so that in training camp they can unleash the full arsenal. They can show him off as a runner.”
It’ll be tough for Lance to beat out the incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo before Week 1. I have my doubts that Week 1 is the timeline that the 49ers want Lance to be ready, though.
Toying with Lance’s mechanics is one thing, but using an aspect that Jimmy can’t offer — running the ball so defenses must defense 11-on-11 — hints that the question is more “when” than “if.”
One of the bigger questions surrounding what happens at quarterback for the Niners this year is whether Lance would have a wildcat type of package. To me, that’d be handicapping your offense and Lance. If you want to get him on the field, just put him at quarterback with the full playbook. Why limit a supremely talented player?
The idea that Lance has to take big hits as a designated runner can’t sit well with everyone in the Niners building. Fowler added this, which should make you worry a little less:
“They don’t want to put him in harm’s way and have him take too many hits. But they love the dimension he can bring to Kyle Shanahan’s attack because they couldn’t do it with Jimmy Garoppolo. They could do it with Lance as a runner and a passer.”
Once training camp rolls around, I’ll be looking for three things:
- How are the reps split as practice goes along?
- Are both QBs pushing the ball down the field?
- How each QB reacts to one having a positive day
The first statement will tell us how Lance is progressing. We don’t have to worry about coach or player speak, or even fall for one throw that’s making the rounds on social media. If Lance starts the first week of training camp by getting 20% of the first-team reps, and that number doubles when the first preseason game rolls around, the coaching staff is sky-high on Lance.
As for the second point, I’ll be curious to see if both QBs play off each other. For example, if Jimmy hits a receiver on a bomb, does Lance try to do the same when it’s his turn?
It doesn’t have to be restricted to deep throws. If Lance fits passes in tight windows, does Jimmy try and do the same? Playing and feeding off each other interests me. It’s part of the QB dynamic.
Lastly, Lance is going to have bad days. Jimmy will, too. Both will have good days. Do these positive or negative days snowball, and that’s eventually how the starting QB is determined? Or, will inconsistencies for the rookie make it to where the team can’t trust him early on?