I couldn’t help myself. Be honest. You couldn’t, either. When there is a video or a clip of a player that you haven’t seen in what feels like an eternity, your first inclination is to overreact and put too much stock into whatever 20 second clip there is.
During the 49ers OTA practice Tuesday, the beat reporters on hand provided some much-needed material for those of us who weren’t present:
Trey Lance warming up during #49ers’ second OTA practice. pic.twitter.com/afUgJTzMln— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) May 23, 2023
The first thing most noticed about Trey Lance was that his throwing motion wasn’t as exaggerated or loopy as we’ve become accustom to. That’s all well and good, but playing quarterback starts from the ground up.
What I noticed was the difference in Lance’s throwing base. In his most recent start, which came back in Week 2 last season against the Seattle Seahawks, Lance stood nearly upright when he threw the ball:
When you’re standing with that narrow of a base, your balance is off, which leads to inaccurate throws, less control of the ball, and it makes it easier for defenders to knock you off your feet with something as simple as an arm tackle.
You could see the vast difference in Lance’s throwing base from a 50-second clip during OTAs:
Lance’s feet were wider and his hips were lower. In the video from Eric above, you’ll notice how Trey’s timing and sequencing in his drop were efficient. There wasn’t an added hitch in his footwork.
After practice, head coach Kyle Shanahan explained the difference about what Lance has done to clean up his throwing base:
“It means playing with your feet wider apart, always be in a position to throw. When you’re a quarterback your feet aren’t together. When you turn into a runner, your feet are together and you look to run, but then it takes you a second and a half to throw where defenders can tee off. It’s about always having to be in a certain position to throw in, so when the o-line is bad, you’re not one of those guys who’s just going to get sacked every time the o-line is bad. You know how to get rid of the ball or you know how to turn into a runner and go. And that has to do with how you balance your feet out, how far you keep them apart and how you can progress in a pocket.”
A better, consistent base will lead to Lance not only throwing a more accurate, less wobbly ball, but it’ll help him play faster, as Shanahan alluded to above.
When Lance spoke on Tuesday, he had a level of confidence and comfort that we hadn’t seen before. Lance also spoke about how not only his finger injury from his rookie year affected him, but how he hadn’t been 100 percent healthy until as recent as March:
Probably towards the end of March, I would say is when I was 100%. And yeah, finger was probably a past thing throughout this whole rehab process for most of it. I felt like it got to that point. Pretty close to that point after my rookie year after that offseason, but yeah, it’s been an awesome offseason for me, just being able to spend time finally getting back to football, finally getting back to being around the guys now.”
Trey used the word “fun” a couple of times during his presser, saying he’s finally having fun and enjoying playing football again. We’ll track his progress and whether his mechanics translate to a successful training camp. But early indications are promising for the 49ers young quarterback.