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Sean Salisbury: It’s pointless to sit Trey Lance for a few weeks

“The Xs and Os on the white board don’t move”

Sean Salisbury weighs in on the 49ers QB competition

With Michelle Magdziuk off today, I decided to sit down with former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury and dive into the quarterback competition. We discussed who should start, what he’s seen so far from Trey Lance and some potential problem areas that Trey will need to improve upon.

Here are some (but not all) of the best parts of the interview, which you can also listen to as a podcast:

Why starting Lance isn’t as risky as some people think

“We’re always looking at up, but what about the floor? I think the floor for Jimmy can drop a lot farther than the floor for Trey Lance. Meaning, Lance at his worst is going to be better than Jimmy at his worst because he can do things making plays. Like, if he’s having a six for 21 day, there may be three more plays in the game where he bought time and threw across the field that maybe Jimmy can’t make.

He was five of 14 [against Kansas City]. Had some sacks; he doesn’t quite understand protections yet, missed some throws being a little over-anxious, had some drops. Yet look at how we’re talking about him because the five plays he did make were like, ‘Damn!’ Eye-opening. And that’s the way it’s gonna be early on. The key is with the great roster around him, can they hold him afloat until finally the light switch goes on and he says, ‘Oh, I know what that strong safety blitz looks like.’ In the meantime, Jimmy can compete, play his butt off, do everything he can to fend him off, but it’s going to be a difficult task.”

How much would sitting the first few weeks help Lance?

“He’s not going to learn anything in two weeks or three weeks watching...I’ll say it in New England, here or anywhere: If they’re even, or it’s close, play the rookie. You’re going to learn far more with real stuff flying around than you are sitting in a quarterback meeting room watching the other guy play. You just are.

If he’s not swimming [reading coverages] and he’s a got a grasp of what’s going on, I’ve got to ask myself, ‘If we take a step back, can we take three steps forward with Lance quickly?’”

How can Lance get his new footwork/mechanical changes to stick?

“The hardest thing for young guys like him to do is keep repping something that’s boring...You’ve got to be the greatest self-critic in the world at this position. If you’re sensitive, or afraid of work, or afraid of doing lonely work, you’re eventually going to get caught up to. It’s going to take a minute, and he’ll revert back, but he’s young. [Young QBs] always rely on their playmaking skills, but once the play-making skills, the mental part, and the mechanics come together, you’re going to win Super Bowls.

Other highlights:

  • What John Elway told him about the secret to confidence in the two-minute drill
  • A great Peyton Manning story about grinding through quarterback drills
  • Why the best decision Lance made against the Chiefs was a throw he didn’t make