Peter King is taking training camp tours around the NFL and recently made a stop in Santa Clara, where he spoke to some of the 49ers players and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
In his Football Morning in America column, King had keen insights that are difficult to ignore and paint a picture that the future is bright for Trey Lance.
According to King, the team gave every player an iPad to study plays and the playbook, plus that day’s game tape. Then, much like Hudl at the high school level, you can track how many hours each player watches. King said Lance had registered the most minutes used on the Niners’ internal server.
For a kid that has to digest a new offense, it’s encouraging to know that Lance is spending as much time as he can watching and learning from his mistakes. That’s what he needs to do, according to Fred Warner:
“You see the raw talent, and you see the ball fly out of his hand. Impressive. Games will be different. But 11 on 11 out here is still football, and we’re seeing a young guy work and be humble and make throws like that. That’s what he needs to do.”
We’re still a day away from the 49ers putting the pads on. While you can’t hit the quarterbacks in practice, a live pass-rush with the bullets flying around each quarterback is when we can truly evaluate the quarterbacks.
King said for Lance to start, some of the top players on the team must be convinced that he’s ready, and Shanahan told King:
“That observation is accurate. We’re on the practice field now and you’re a first-round pick so everyone’s looking at you. Your new team wants to see your talent level, which he has, but they also want to see how he carries himself. I think that’s what they’ve been impressed with. He doesn’t know everything yet. He’s still trying. This was his eighth practice since he’s been here, including OTAs.”
I thought King had a salient point when he said, “that’s why seam routes in traffic on July 29, in shorts and jerseys, are important.”
Adding context to these throws is critical. That’s why citing completion percentage during training camp doesn’t tell the whole story. If one QB completes 80% of his passes, the odds that he’s challenging the defense are slim.
One thing is certain: the players know. They notice certain traits about Lance, and, in Deebo Samuel’s case, he’s a fan of the rookie’s aggressiveness:
“But Deebo Samuel comes up to me at one point, and he’s like, ‘This guy’s got some balls.’ And I think that’s what the guys feel. He goes out there and he’s not scared to fail. He goes out there and lets it rip, and there’s some good, some bad. Players can feel it. When you’re not scared to fail and you’re talented, you do things the right way, guys believe it’s a matter of time.”
Lance isn’t there yet, but he’s trending in the right direction, and it’s not as if he’s doing so without impressing along the way. That’s exactly what you want in your No. 3 overall pick.
The ultimate X-Factor
The legend of Jalen Hurd will continue to grow, as King called him the X-Factor to Shanahan. Hurd, who missed Friday and Saturday’s practice, has yet to step on the field during a regular-season game.
Here’s how that convo went:
“Great X-factor,” Kyle Shanahan told me. “Honestly, he’s probably mine on this team too. He’s got to stay healthy so he can be a big factor here. You get your heart broken and you get frustrated because you know how great he’d be in the offense. But he’s just as frustrated. It’d be a hell of bonus to have him.”
If Hurd misses practice for the third day in a row, Shanahan will have to answer questions.
Shanahan knows that Hurd is a legitimate threat and can add a skill set to the Niners receiving core that nobody else does with his strength, size, and jump ball skills.