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49ers in Five: Trey Lance’s finger injury was more serious than we thought

“I had to learn how to throw the ball differently without kind of using my pointer finger”

Everything you need to know in about five minutes

A seemingly insignificant moment may have significantly altered the rookie season of one of the 49ers’ most important players. With 15 seconds left in the first half of the Week 3 preseason game against the Raiders, Trey Lance’s right index finger collided with Max Richardson’s helmet after a throw. Lance said yesterday that the chipped bone in his finger bothered him for the rest of the season.

“I kind of dealt with my finger throughout the season so for me it was kind of getting that back, getting healthy, and feeling back to myself. I feel like towards the end of the season I wasn’t the best version of myself overall.

I think the finger for me was the biggest thing, just as far as throwing the ball. Had to learn how to throw the ball differently without kind of using my pointer finger I guess just because of where it was at throughout the year. Now I feel like I’m in a great spot health-wise, throwing the ball well, and I feel really good.”

The injury didn’t seem that serious at the time because Lance stayed in the game against the Raiders and also played immediately in Week 1 against the Lions. During the 49ers’ first drive of the season Trey came off the bench and ran up the middle for one yard as soon as the team got into the red zone. Three plays later he threw the team’s first touchdown pass of the year.

“I could manage it, but it’s a finger so it’s hard,” Lance continued when asked, “It didn’t get straight all the way, was kind of the issue. So right away I couldn’t squeeze, that’s why I didn’t throw after that preseason game. And then kind of as the season goes on it was kind of straightening and straightening more and more and swelling goes down, but it’s just a thing that takes time.”

Lance’s accuracy is the most common criticism of his game thus far in his career, but we may not have gotten true read on how good he can be in that area. In six quarters against the Seahawks and Cardinals, Lance was very inconsistent throwing the football. He completed just 24 of his 47 passes for a below average 51% completion rate. Later in the year against the Texans, he completed 69% of his passes.

We learned yesterday that a big part of Trey’s offseason was getting that finger healthy and erasing any bad habits he fell into last year because of the injury.

“Finishing off a different finger with your throws, it was something that you do kind of subconsciously. For me it wasn’t something I was thinking about throwing, but, yeah it kind of just happens. You find a way to adapt, you find a way to throw.”

A healthy offseason doesn’t mean Lance will suddenly start threading the needle like Drew Brees out there, but it should at the very least help him throw spirals more consistently in 2022.

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