There has been a ton of noise recently about 49ers quarterback Trey Lance and how he will pan out at the NFL level. Given the eye-popping amount of doubt I’ve seen about Lance, I thought it would be good to get the opinion of someone who has firsthand experience being a part of an organization making the transition to a young signal-caller.
I spoke with a scout for the Buffalo Bills, who gave me a bit of insight into what he witnessed during the growth of Josh Allen from year one to where he is now. While I don’t think Allen and Lance are a perfect comparison by any means, I believe there are enough similarities, particularly from a physical measurable standpoint, to have a discussion.
Here are some stats from both Allen’s and Lance’s rookie years.
52% completion percentage
3.8% interception percentage
6.5 yards per attempt
58.8% completion percentage
8.5 yards per attempt
Since his rookie year, we have seen Allen skyrocket into the discussion among the best players in the entire league. Allen has thrown 73 touchdowns over the last two seasons and has been the driving force behind a Bills team that has won 24 games over that span.
To better understand what to look for with Lance’s development, I asked this scout what he thought was the biggest improvement Allen made from Year 1 to where he is now.
The scout mentioned that the biggest thing he noticed was Allen’s feet slowing down. This is interesting because that’s something I noticed that Lance improved on tremendously between his first start in Arizona early in the season and the start he made at home in week 17.
The scout then went on to mention how important it was for him to improve on the day-to-day stuff. Practice habits, film study, preparation, etc., are all things that simply require repetition to master. No matter how talented a player is, the cliches about learning to be a pro exist for a reason.
This is where patience is going to have to come into play regarding Lance, as a lot of his growth is going to happen behind the scenes, and results might not come as quickly as Allen’s did.
This scout also went out of his way to mention that he believes Kyle Shanahan is the right guy to get the most out of Lance and the abundance of talent he clearly possesses. He also mentioned, “He (Shanahan) has done more with less,” a clear nod of respect to Shanahan's production in his offense from a number of unheralded quarterbacks over the years.