Kyle Shanahan defends Trey Lance amidst national media criticism

Aug 16, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: 8:11 pm

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers ta...

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The last 72 hours have had a lot of negativity surrounding the 49ers franchise, particularly Trey Lance.

The third-year quarterback had a rough go of things in the team’s first preseason game of the year, taking four sacks in the first half. And while he threw a touchdown pass, it was anything but sheer luck that the ball wasn’t intercepted instead. Regardless, the QB has a lot to work on throughout training camp, with coach Kyle Shanahan impressed with how he carries himself.

The San Francisco 49ers coach spoke to the media Wednesday, breaking down how the QB has responded to national criticism the last few days. While Shanahan obviously doesn’t agree with most of it, he understands that it comes with the territory of being a high draft pick in the NFL.

“It just goes with the territory. It goes with it for quarterbacks, it goes with it for anybody that’s a high draft pick, but especially a quarterback,” Kyle Shanahan said.

Despite the negativity, Lance has been laser-focused on football, impressing his coach, to say the least.

“Trey is extremely smart and very socially aware,” Shanahan added. “He knows how the world works. So he does his best, which I think he does a damn good job of, trying to block that out and focus on getting better, and I think that’s what he’s done so far.”

At the end of the day though, how he performs on the field is all that matters. Coming off a disappointing return Sunday, he’ll have another chance to prove his worth Saturday against the Denver Broncos. But that may come in relief to fellow QB Sam Darnold.

“Not set in stone,” Shanahan stated. “What I said last week, we want Trey to take a majority of the first half, so Sam could get [in first] next week. That’s what we’re planning on, but we’ll see how the next two practices go before we decide for sure.”

As for the team’s starting QB, Brock Purdy, he likely won’t be playing against Denver Saturday.

“I haven’t decided yet with all of the starters,” the 49ers’ coach said.

The second-year QB has progressed steadily from offseason elbow surgery, enough to finally be fully cleared in practice this week. And with the other gunslingers struggling to stay consistent, Purdy has reclaimed his role as QB1 on the depth chart.

Despite that, Purdy has been a little interception prone in training camp.

The Arizona native threw two INTs to the 49ers’ first-team defense Wednesday, including a gimme by linebacker Curtis Robinson. Purdy almost threw his third pick of the day, but Robinson couldn’t secure it. All in all, the QB has thrown 10 INTs combined over the last few weeks.

Regardless, Kyle Shanahan is pleased with what he’s seeing from Purdy. While he’d love the bad throws to disappear entirely, the QB’s willingness to “let it rip”, encourages the coach even more so.

“You never want interceptions in any situation,” Shanahan said. “I definitely like having interceptions a lot more in practice than in games. One thing Brock does is he lets it rip. He’s not worried about anything else. He’s especially not worried about people counting his interceptions at practice. That doesn’t mean they’re all right, but I do like him letting it rip.”

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