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49ers in Five: Chris Simms ranks Trey Lance 31st best quarterback in the NFL

That’s up seven spots from last year’s ranking of 38

Everything you need to know about the 49ers in less time than it takes to drink your morning coffee

NBC Sports’ Chris Simms is counting down his top 40 quarterbacks, and just nine QBs in, he’s already landed on Trey Lance. During the Simms Unbuttoned podcast segment, Chris broke down both where he sees Lance as a quarterback right now and where the 49ers can go this season as a team with him under center.

The whole segment is worth a listen, but here are the two things that jumped out to me.

“I see the talent, the potential, all of that. There’s no doubt...The arm is ridiculously strong and he’s a good athlete. He does seem like he’s a good kid, and from everything I’ve heard from everybody he is smart, but I haven’t seen the smarts on the field yet, I would say.

The accuracy is still the biggest question. Just the pure ability to be a thrower and a passer. Every game was a f*cking miracle to get back to 50 percent throwing. It really was...And then the ability to throw the appropriate ball. Remember when we went through that period last year when people were like, ‘So many drops in the preseason.’ Drops? He’s throwing to a receiver from you to me and he’s throwing as hard as he can. Heavy fastball, no spin. It jumps out when you watch on film.

Not only that, I think the thing that’s concerning is [his completion percentage is] around 50%, and damn, almost 50% of those completions are like, ‘Woah, that guy barely caught it,’ or ‘That guy had to turn around and make some crazy catch.’ Nothing is easy. I think what added on to it, you see very few real quarterback plays. Go through the pocket, do all that. Read it, do all that. A lot of his big plays and his stats are what I would call Shanahan Specials. Where I’d go, great throw down field and all that, but f*ck he’s wide open by ten miles. You could have put me or you in on that play and we still would have got that done. I know people are going to look at that and go, ‘wow,’ and I understand the wow factor, but that’s not enough. I gotta see stuff like that and plays like that within the normal rhythm of the offense. Too many of the big successful plays were just Shanahan serving it up on a platter.

It’s true that the offense was definitely choppy when Trey started last year. Given his inexperience, that wasn’t surprising. It’s also true that Lance was helped out by some great catches from Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and the rest of the talent around him, as was Jimmy Garoppolo when he was the starter, as Chris later acknowledged.

“The 49ers are a Super Bowl team, period. They were last year, we know that. Even with saying all this, they basically had to do some of this stuff with Jimmy Garoppolo, too. It’s not going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got to figure out how to work around our quarterback.’ No sh*t. They’ve been doing that with Jimmy Garoppolo, so that’s where I have tremendous faith in Shanahan. I think Shanahan can probably make it look even better than it might actually be, like he did last year.

That would be, to me, the goal. Let’s get him out there, let’s get him playing, let’s get progress. If we can get to mid-November, late November where we start to go, ‘Uh-oh, he’s starting to read the field and make a few special throws.’ Watch out for the 49ers.”

The most important thing with Lance is not where he is on May 20th but where he goes from here. How much of the things we still have questions about will improve with more reps and game experience? Time will tell, and the ending to that story will start to be written next week when OTAs get underway.

What did you think of Chris’ analysis? He’s scheduled to join Niners Nation on Monday to discuss more about Trey’s ranking. Do you have question you’d like us to ask? Leave it in a comment below, and we’ll run as many as we can pass him during the interview.

Make sure you follow the Niners Nation Podcast Network and get up to date on everything happening with the team by downloading the 49ers in Five podcast. You’ll hear the best parts of press conferences, radio interviews, and all the latest 49ers news that you need to know - all in about five minutes.