The San Francisco 49ers invested three first-round picks to land quarterback Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft. Two years later, Brock Purdy is projected to be the starting quarterback in 2023 with additional reporting shedding light on how the organization views Lance now.
San Francisco took a massive gamble on Lance in 2021. After dominating the FCS at North Dakota State in 2019, he only played one game the following season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Trey Lance college stats: 173.8 QB rating, 30-1 TD-INT, 65.4% completion, 1,325 rush yards, 18 rushing touchdowns in 19 career games
Viewed as a developmental quarterback, Lance appeared in six games as a rookie but attempted just 71 passes. While he showed some flashes of talent, the overall body of work in a limited sample size proved he needed a lot more time and reps.
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The 49ers went into training camp aware that Jimmy Garoppolo provided them with the best chance to win immediately in 2022. However, Lance opened the season as the starter despite a lot of issues with accuracy because San Francisco knew he needed the reps and his ceiling is higher.
- Trey Lance stats (NFL): 84.5 QB rating, 54.9% completion rate, 235 rush yards, 4.4 ypc
In his age-22 season, Lance was always considered an unfinished passer who needed to work on his mechanics, accuracy and understanding of Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. However, he also reportedly was a bit of a letdown in another regard.
According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Lance was “not as skilled a runner” as San Francisco’s coaching staff expected after drafting him. Furthermore, there are still questions regarding whether or not he can improve as a passer given he’s not a natural thrower.
It’s not all bad for Lance in San Francisco. Before suffering the injury, per Breer, the young quarterback earned strong reviews for his work ethic and was liked within the locker room.
The new reporting provides further uncertainty to the 49ers’ quarterback situation in 2023. Purdy would’ve been the unquestioned starter, but he suffered a torn UCL in his throwing elbow during the NFC Championship Game. While the current timeline for recovery would see him return for training camp, San Francisco can’t bank on him avoiding setbacks or being limited.
It puts more pressure on Lance, coming off a season-ending injury, to perform early in minicamp this summer. Given the concerns regarding his readiness, the 49ers might have to add a reliable veteran quarterback this offseason to fill the role left by Garoppolo’s departure.
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