49ers: How Trey Lance Can Live Up To Lofty Expectations in 2022

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance (Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)
San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance (Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports) /

All signs point to Trey Lance becoming the guy in San Francisco. Will the 49ers replicate the same success they had with Jimmy Garoppolo?

A player who will be counted on in a big way this season is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. The 49ers took Lance with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after debating long and hard between taking him or Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. This past season though, Lance saw very limited playing time, only throwing 71 passes on the season.

This season it looks like Trey Lance will be the number one quarterback in San Francisco. While the 49ers still have Jimmy Garoppolo on contract, if they can get fair market value for him they will likely trade him before the season. Even if he is still on the roster opening day, it will likely be as a backup to Lance. Now the question becomes: how will Lance handle his new role as the leader of the San Francisco 49ers offense?

When looking at his film from last season, several things stand out about his ability to be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. The first one is his athletic ability. He has the ability to hurt teams with his feet and also has shown the arm strength to roll out to one side of the field, setup, and hit his steaking receiver on the other side of the field.

Look for the 49ers to take full advantage of this trait in several ways next season. In the run game, they will likely find ways for him to be the primary ball carrier on plays like QB Power and QB Counter. In addition to having plays designed for him, they will also incorporate several zone-read plays where he has the option of giving the ball to his back or taking it himself.

In the passing game, Kyle Shanahan loves to rollout his quarterbacks and look for that trend to continue next year. One play the 49ers will likely use with him is booting him outside where he will have the option to run once he gets outside the pocket or hit his receivers on a sail concept.

Another trait that has already stood out to his teammates and his coaches is his ability to stay calm under pressure. Head coach Kyle Shanahan recently had this to say about Trey Lance:

“I think he’s going to be able to overcome adversity. I do believe he’s going to be able to handle this pressure. It’s going to be hard, but that’s what the position is. There’s only so many people in this world that have the talent to be put in that spot, and there might be 32 of them, but there’s definitely not 32 of them who have the talent and who have the stuff inside that allows you to handle that position through the ups and downs and everything. I don’t care how good you are, people are going to come after you.”

This will be a very important trait to have this season as he will no doubt suffer setbacks this season, just like any player will who will be starting for the first time in his career. If he can remain calm and confident he should be able to battle through this adversity and come out a much better quarterback than he was going into the season.

While there is plenty to like about Trey Lance when watching his film from last season, some concerns did arise. One of these was his inability to quickly get through his reads and throw on time. This was evident during the Arizona game where he missed some wide-open throws and also had trouble matching up his footwork to his receiver’s routes.

Another concern that arose was his throwing motion. In his film from last year and his college film at North Dakota State, he showed a long throwing motion that tended to loop around instead of going straight back. However, it does look like the 49ers worked on this with Lance, as he displayed a much more compact and quicker throwing motion in OTAs.

While it is impossible to predict how Lance will do this season he will most likely have a better season than people expect. One of the reasons for this is he is playing for one of the smartest play-callers in the NFL in Shanahan, who will take full advantage of Lance’s skillset. Another reason why he will likely have a strong season is his supporting cast, which includes one of the best wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL in Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.