How San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has honored his game behind the scenes – NFL Nation

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SANTA CLARA, California – As the San Francisco 49ers’ scouthold quarterback, Trey Lance has played more roles in a short time than Samuel L. Jackson.

Lance can easily rattle off the names and styles of the quarterbacks he has mimicked in practice this season. There are mobile signal callers like Justin Fields, stationary types like Kirk Cousins ​​and those in between a la Aaron Rodgers.

As a backup for the established starter Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance has not had many opportunities to develop on game day. Lance’s lessons have taken place behind the scenes.

No one has been more important than the one that linebacker Fred Warner impressed on Lance several times. Early in the season, Lance tended to play safe. Afraid of making mistakes or throwing bugs, Lance would start running if he did not see something he liked in practice.

Warner was not ok with that, pulling Lance aside and telling him that leading the scout team provided an opportunity to not only help the defense prepare for the upcoming opponent, but also give Lance chances to get better. For that to happen, Warner told him, Lance had to start taking some risks.

“I think after that conversation he really just started growing and you started watching these crazy plays where he just gets it right over the guys’ fingertips and just throws the ball down the field and makes these amazing games,” he said. Warner. “It’s just a self-confidence. You grow every year, especially as a beginner, every single day doing things a little more, more and pushing the boundaries, and I think that’s what I’ve seen out of him.”

Calling it a turning point in Lance’s young career would be premature, as would all other sweeping statements about Election No. 3 at this point. But those conversations with Warner were also instrumental in setting the course for how Lance’s rookie season has played out.

While the Niners were and are committed to Garoppolo as the starter for this season, the cloud of a potential Garoppolo injury always popped up, meaning Lance had to stay ready.

All of this brings us to the Niners’ latest quarterback crossroads.

Since Garoppolo still cares for a torn ligament in his right thumb, the neat and tidy job descriptions are gone. Lance’s time is now until he’s told that it’s not. And now he could be in line to start a potential do-or-die week 18 game (16:25 ET, Fox) against a Los Angeles Rams team that Garoppolo has beaten five times in a row.

Niner’s coach Kyle Shanahan has already said that Garoppolo will start if he is able to protect and throw the ball without any problems. However, that is not certain, and therefore Lance’s performance against the Houston Texans last week offered some consolation to San Francisco.

After a couple of early errors, Lance finished strong in his first start since Oct. 10, completing 16 of 23 passes on 249 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a 116.0 passer rating.

“I thought Trey was doing some really good things,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “He was thrown into a really difficult situation compared to where our team was, how big a game it was, basically being a playoff game. I thought he went in there and handled the pressure really well.”

It was not the type of show that made the job for Lance permanent, but it undoubtedly made many want to see what he can do on a big stage with big efforts. The helmet of the Niners’ hand-picked franchise quarterback is heavy.

From the moment the Niners traded up to No. 3 to select Lance in the April draft, the talk about the position has not stopped. Would Garoppolo be traded? Would Lance overtake Garoppolo? Would Niners follow the Chiefs model from 2017 with Garoppolo in the role of Alex Smith and Lance in Patrick Mahomes’ shoes?

Shanahan has mostly avoided big statements about the position, but it became more and more clear as the season went on that the Chiefs’ approach has been his preferred method. It has been interrupted twice now by injuries to Garoppolo, but also by a few health problems for Lance.

In training camp, Lance received a shard in his right index finger, leaving him with inflammation that has forced him to continue working on straightening his finger, even now. Then, in his first start against Arizona in October, Lance sprained his left knee, giving yet another setback that cost him a few weeks.

Now that Lance is through it all, he says he feels as healthy as he has done all year, and Shanahan said he thought Lance has even been able to shorten his throwing motion, which is a bit long in preseason.

With Lance under center, the Niners had a very different look against the Texans in Week 17. According to Pro Football Focus, Lance’s average goal depth against Houston was 12 yards, the highest of any 49ers quarterback since Garoppolo’s second start (also against Houston)) as a niner in 2017.

Lance was also not afraid to cut it loose, throwing deep and outside the numbers regularly as 205 of his passing yards came on throws that raised 10 plus yards in the air, most of a San Francisco quarterback in the last three seasons, according to NFL Next Generation statistics.

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel credits Lance’s “conscious” exercise habits for diving into the specific details of each coaching point and working to work out the details.

“It’s just really day in, day out saying, ‘OK, we want you to play better with the base, improve it,'” McDaniel said. “And then he does it diligently and uses it whenever possible. And then it’s a matter of time with every player, every single player, it does not matter who you are, whether you are Trent Williams or a rookie, “You’re going to have a technical failure. And it’s our job as coaches to always be aware of that, to always be present and never miss an opportunity to help a young player get better.”

Before last week’s start against the Texans, Shanahan said Lance had enjoyed his top four consecutive weeks of training. It’s no coincidence that came after a little direct talk with Warner.

“It’s a way of finding a way to make myself better and at the same time give those guys the look,” Lance said. “And even though it’s throwing a ball that I do not necessarily want to throw, it’s important to those guys, and of course I can get something out of it, too.”

And if Lance starts again on Sunday, he will have a chance to turn the future into the present faster than expected.

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