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Kyle Shanahan on Trey Lance’s performance: I wish he could have stayed out there longer

The 49ers head coach explained what he liked and disliked from Trey Lance during his first preseason appearance

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Much has been made of Trey Lance’s performance on Sunday. Opinions ranging from he’ll never succeed in the NFL to signs of encouragement have been tossed around on every medium possible.

Ultimately, what matters is Kyle Shanahan’s assessment of Lance’s development and process. Here’s what Shanahan had to say when asked about Lance on Sunday:

After looking at the tape, what did you see good and things that can be worked on by QB Trey Lance?

“I thought he played a lot better as it ended. He came out, first play was tough. The corner just keyed his three-step drop and sat on it and he did the right thing. He reset to go to the tight end over the ball, but one of our eligibles busted on the play and put two guys in the same spot so he had to protect the ball and take a sack there. Another sack on the third and eight wasn’t his fault. We kind of had a jailbreak on it, but the two ones after that I thought he could’ve gotten rid of it a little before the sack and a couple things, he just hesitated on a hair early in the game. But as it went, I think he made a huge third down on the third and eight I think it was to [WR Chris] Conley. Made a very decisive one in two-minute that got us down there to [TE] Troy [Fumagali]. And ended up doing some good things. I wish we would’ve converted that short yardage and kept him out there a little bit longer, but that’s some of the frustrating things about preseason.”

Did you see any more on that touchdown pass that was a little bit scary for maybe a split second?

“Oh, it was scary, a lot of it, but I totally saw what he saw. The middle third safety cut the low cross and then there’s a guy going behind him and what I like is he didn’t react and he saw a hole and tried to rip it. And there was some guy coming from the backside that he didn’t see, but it wasn’t a gun shy throw. Those are things you learn from. I kind of like seeing him trying to make that play, regardless of the result. And obviously we got a little bit lucky, it ended up being a good result. And I wouldn’t have been happy if it was a pick, but I can understand what he saw rolling out to the left. Usually when a middle third player cuts a route, someone’s vacated in the middle third and that corner was hesitant to get there, and so Trey didn’t see him and he let it rip. And those are things I want to see more of them, not picks and bad decisions, but just playing a little bit faster, a little bit more aggressive. And I think that was one that he did that on but also the other ones that I mentioned, that weren’t just lucky they ended up being good.”

Was his hesitation maybe just because he hasn’t had reps in game situations for so long?

“It could be, yeah. I’ve had guys who’ve had reps in a lot of games that come out and are hesitant at times too. That’s also the hard thing about preseason, you don’t get to play a whole game to work through those things. And there was a number of times last year that any quarterback we played with comes down there a little hesitant early. And I think he had a couple of those, and a couple bad sacks, and our offense didn’t get going and it kind of builds up. And I was glad that he was able to fight through that and makes some plays there at the end. And I wish he could’ve stayed out longer, but we stuck with our plan and made sure not to panic and make any bad decisions for him.”

Sunday was a mixed bag for Lance. To hear Shanahan give a positive assessment is encouraging for the young man. While the results aren’t always pretty, the process is the biggest part, and it sounds like Shanahan was pleased in that aspect.