49ers star tight end George Kittle made a guest appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football where he confirmed which quarterbacks will throw at his annual TEU event. Kittle’s teammates Trey Lance and Sam Darnold are among a “plethora” of quarterbacks set to attend.
It feels like whenever any Niners player makes the media rounds, they get asked the same questions. This case wasn’t any different. Kittle once again had Lance’s back, saying, “Trey is a starter in the NFL. He will be. Get that guy some reps. He has an incredibly high ceiling. Brock Purdy won eight straight games, got hurt. It’s Brock’s job to lose at that point.”
Kittle, essentially echoing what Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have hammered home all offseason, was adamant that the only thing Lance is lacking at this point is playing time: “I think that Trey is definitely a starting quarterback. Like I said, he just needs reps. That’s all it is.”
In the 49ers case, Kittle later joined the Jim Rome Show later on in the afternoon to explain what he’s seen from Lance this offseason and how he looks different from last season:
“I think Trey looks a lot different. I think his confidence in himself, he has this calmness to him in the huddle, he looks like he’s having fun again, and he’s healthy. So, those are three things that are good for the Niners.”
It’s not uncommon for younger players to have increased confidence the more they play. You realize what you can and can’t get away with while learning more of the playbook. So, that’s likely where Lance’s calmness in the huddle comes from. He knows what he’s doing.
Kittle pointed out one specific play that he and Lance connected on that Trey could not hit last year:
“I’m really excited, too. This OTAs practice, the last day of minicamp, me and Trey connected on a 60-yard touchdown down the sideline. A little box fade around the linebacker, threw it away from the safety, perfectly in the bread basket. I was able to catch it in stride for a touchdown. And that was a route that, in training camp last year, we kind of struggled to connect with.
And so, you could see he’s progressed since last season. That’s all I’m asking for. I was asked the same question last year and my answer is always, ‘he just needs reps.’ That’s all it is. He’s got a high ceiling, and the more reps he gets, the better he’s going to be. And so, it’s excited to see that he has taken steps forward. He’s progressed, and I think that’s good news for the Niners.”
Finally, Kittle highlighted why it’s critical for a quarterback to take charge of the huddle:
“It’s a total game changer. When you have a quarterback step into the huddle because he’s the only guy that talks in the huddle, and he comes in there with an assertive confidence, you can feel that energy coming off of him.
And when you’re in a huddle with a quarterback that’s confident, it makes you more confident. Like, ‘oh, he’s going to throw me the best ball, and I’m going to catch that. I’m going to score a touchdown.’ And it’s just you can hear this energy come out of their voice. And when it’s positive, and it has this confidence to it, it just elevates the whole huddle, and it elevates the whole team.”
So, once can assume when Purdy is in the huddle that he’s speaking with the utmost confidence and is sure of his play-calls. That’s the next step for Lance, who sounds like he’s continuing to improve. As George said, that’s all you can ask.