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Trey Lance’s teammate highlights similarities between the 49ers’ starting QB and Josh Allen

Trey Lance
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance came into the NFL with limited college experience at a small school. His route to becoming the third overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers led to talk of him following a similar career path to Josh Allen. As he heads into his first season as a starter, one of his new teammates has seen similarities between Lance and the Buffalo Bills star.

Lance played only one full season as a starter with North Dakota State in 2019, in which he did not throw a single interception. Allen was more erratic in his two starting seasons at Wyoming before the Bills traded up to land him with the seventh pick in 2018.

Because of their similarly unconventional journeys to the pros, Allen and Lance each made it to the league amid questions over their lack of seasoning against elite college competition.

Allen, who also faced doubts over his inconsistent accuracy, has answered such concerns emphatically. Prior to a 2021 season in which he did not match the heights of his spectacular 2020, Allen improved each year and has blossomed into a member of the NFL’s gold standard at quarterback.

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How does Josh Allen compare to Trey Lance?

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49ers receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, a teammate of Allen’s in 2018 and 2019, appears to believe Lance is primed to emulate the 2020 Pro Bowler’s speedy ascent to the top of the game.

Speaking after Tuesday’s practice, McCloud – per 49ers Webzone – told reporters:

“Every day, [Lance is] getting better, learning how to be a leader. Not even learning; he has it already. It’s a natural thing with him. Actually, I came in with Josh Allen and the Bills, and he gives me that same type of energy, that ‘I’m ready to take the next step’ energy.

“I wasn’t with him [Allen] last year, but that second year is kind of the difference. I think for, most NFL players, the first and second [year is a big difference], especially for me it was. Just watching Trey every day grow as a leader, be able to take control of not even just the huddle [but] the offense as a whole when we’re going through walkthroughs, and making sure everybody where they need to be at a certain time. It’s great watching him practice.”

Ray-Ray McCloud on Trey Lance’s similarities to Josh Allen

The key difference between Allen’s first season in the NFL and that of Lance is playing time. Buffalo gave Allen the chance to go through his growing pains as a rookie in 2018 when he played in 12 games.

San Francisco, as a win-now team that progressed all the way to the NFC Championship, was not prepared to risk throwing Lance into the fire last year even as Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in the first half of the season.

As such, there is scope for significant volatility in year two for a quarterback who often appeared behind the pace of the game in the 10 quarters he did start as a rookie.

Yet if McCloud’s assessment proves accurate and Lance does display a command of the offense that belies his inexperience, the 49ers could soon reap the benefits of the move away from Garoppolo to a younger, cheaper, and more athletically gifted quarterback.

Lance arguably represents the most significant unknown in the NFL in 2022. However, should he live up to a comparison that will only increase the weight of expectation, nobody will be questioning the 49ers’ 2021 draft gamble.

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