Trey Lance’s Maturity Shines Through in Week 1 Critique Wednesday

Sep 14, 2022, 7:20 PM
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers huddles with the offense...
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 11: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers huddles with the offense against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 11, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

If you only looked at the stat sheet after the 49ers game Sunday, you’d think the Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears was on first year staring quarterback Trey Lance. He completed less than 50% of his passes, threw for a pedestrian 164 yards and added an interception for good measure. He also had no touchdowns in his first run at the starting QB job.

But after watching the tape, you’d quickly change your mind.

Costly penalties and a defensive collapse in the second half led to 19 unanswered points by the Bears. Sure Lance and the offense could have peppered in another score or two, but with a monsoon hitting full force in the fourth quarter, there was little to do in a situation manifested by defensive errors.

The Cerebral Mind of Trey Lance

Being the starting quarterback comes with a playbook full of responsibilities, something Lance cherishes proudly, taking the lion’s share of the blame for his team over the past few days.

“So, for me, for us, we made too many mistakes early. I missed too many early, but yeah, I’m going to turn the page on that,” Lance said Wednesday.

Typically, young QBs are a little more lenient to their play as they adjust to the speed of the NFL.

Not Trey Lance.

The 22-year-old from North Dakota State is the hardest on himself, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan A character trait that helped make the decision to give the keys of the kingdom to Lance in the first place.

“Trey’s a guy who is always hard on himself. Looks at everything hard and comes in Tuesday and does all his rehab and gets ready like the other players do,” Shanahan said regarding his bounce-back this week. “Gets a little bit [of time] with the quarterback coaches, but Trey does everything right.”

Take for example this throw here: A perfect layered pass to WR Ray-Ray McCloud in between multiple defenders, a ball coaches drool over when game playing for the week.

But for Lance, he could have gotten it off a bit sooner to get maybe a few more yards after the catch. And that all stems from his pride and ownership of the QB1 role in San Francisco.

“I’m the only one that touches the ball other than the center every single play, so it’s my decision most of the time where the ball goes, how it gets there, pre-snap, getting us in the right play, getting us in the right call, whether it’s run game, pass game, protections, whatever it may be. So I make most of the decisions other than the play call with Kyle [Shanahan],” Lance explained in detail.

“Unless we do make an explosive or I do make the right play, but ball placement, little things like that that could have got us to third-and-two versus third-and-four, little things like that. But yeah, going back and watching the tape, whether it’s a practice or a game I feel like that’s where I learn so much every single rep because little things like that can make all the difference in the long run, especially in a game like that.”

Even with the torrid conditions from the elements in Chicago, that was no excuse for Trey, he should been better in his mind.

“Not using the weather as an excuse, but in the weather, in that situation like catch and throw are some of the hardest throws with those balls just because you don’t know what the ball is going to be like when you take a seven-step drop or a five-step drop. You can kind of feel the ball, spin the ball, find a dry spot or find a spot where it’s not a disaster,” Lance said.

“There were some ugly ones out there on Sunday for sure. And I’m not blaming it on the ball, just continue to work it, be more consistent, but hopefully we’re not playing too many games in those conditions like there were in the fourth quarter.”

Trey The Gamer

His ability to stretch the field is a component Shanahan has been missing since Colin Kaepernick resided in The Bay. And while he has been an effective runner in his young NFL career, Lance is still getting used to the pros, no longer the best player on the field at all times.

“I’m not bigger, faster, and stronger than pretty much everyone else,” he said chuckling. “Guys catch up a lot quicker, space is filled, guys close a lot faster, and I have to learn to protect myself, just being in a different situation knowing how important it is for me to stay healthy.”

But Trey is a gamer, always looking to put his team in the best situation possible, sometimes at the risk of himself.

“Continuing to grow. There’s always going to be, like I said a million times, there’s always going to be better decisions I can make. But on Sunday I felt like I protected myself pretty well, I felt good for the most part. Maybe a couple [plays] I could have got down one step faster or slashing, finding an edge and getting down. But for the most part, when I’m running between the tackles or running on third down, I’m not ever going to slide and go fourth-and-two and just give up on the play and send our defense on the field if it’s a situation like that,” he said emphatically.

Kyle Shanahan and the coaching staff know this about their young QB, while also realizing it’s their job to protect him at all costs.

“He’s got to play football still too,” Shanahan stated. “And so I just compare it to all the quarterbacks in the league who could run and there’s times to slide, there’s time to take edges and dive…You have to get down when you have people in certain areas that are vulnerable, but there’s going to be some that he gets hit on. There’s going to be some that he can protect himself. And that’s just for him and us to work through.”

So how do you combat a week 1 collapse that bring sup more speculation than ever for a first-year starting QB?

Simple: Just turn the page and look to the next opponent.

“I just turned the page on last week. This week we’re locked in, whatever it is. Obviously travel is really the only thing, our schedule changes a little bit with travel, but from a mental standpoint, preparation standpoint, everything’s the same. Just what room I do my stuff in,” Lance said.

The 6’4” gunslinging prospect has a ways to go to reach his potential, ability-wise, but his mature has been on point since stepping foot in Levi’s Stadium.

To watch the full Trey Lance press conference, click here.

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