QB Trey Lance looking to start his 49ers career off by watching and learning

Apr 29, 2021 at 8:39 PM--

Now that Trey Lance is a member of the San Francisco 49ers, the question becomes when he'll get his chance to see the field. But for now, Lance doesn't seem to be thinking that far ahead and is instead focusing on getting his feet wet in the Bay Area.

In particular, Lance is looking forward to getting to know his teammates, including current starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and learning everything he can about his new team and his new home.

Lance spoke to 49ers beat reporters for the first time Thursday night after the team made him the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lance was asked if he expected a similar situation as the one he experienced in college at North Dakota State, where he spent time on the sidelines before taking over the starting spot as a redshirt freshman. However, it seemed like he was focusing more on taking one step at a time, with his first one being the process of getting comfortable with his new team.

"Honestly, I'm not really worried about it right now," Lance said. "Right now I'm just focused on getting there, learning as much as I possibly can, getting to know Jimmy and the guys in the room, learning, becoming close with him, and like I said just learning as much as I can and at that point obviously, competing."

Not surprisingly, based on those comments, Lance isn't thinking too far past this season either. Lance is obviously expected to eventually take over as the starting quarterback in San Francisco, but he's not looking ahead to that just yet, and if he has any long-term expectations for his career, he wasn't ready to share them Thursday night.

"I'm not going to get ahead of myself. We're night one, hour one right now," Lance said. "For me, my biggest thing is just getting in and learn as much as I possibly can. I'm just excited to get there, get to know the community, get to know the organization, and just learn."

Lance had most of his 2020 season shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was limited to one exhibition game after playing in a full season in 2019. That could make his transition process to the NFL more difficult, but he's been working on whatever he can in the meantime on and off the field and is itching to take the next step.

"I'm excited to get there and be challenged. I know this coaching staff is going to push me to get better every single day, and that's something I'm really looking forward to -- getting outside my comfort zone again."

One of Lance's challenges in the weeks and months ahead will be winning over his new teammates, which is something 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch seem confident he'll be able to do. Both raved about Lance's personality and intelligence in their Thursday night media session, with Shanahan suggesting Lance could be a CEO if he wasn't a football player. Lance says he'll be working on establishing relationships by doing what he can to treat people right.

"I think the biggest thing for me is just earning that mutual level of respect," Lance said. "And that's earned, especially as a quarterback. Obviously, you have to make sacrifices. This is what I signed up for and this is what I love to do and I can't wait to do it. But just for me, it's about treating people the right way, leaving an impact on people. That's bigger than football. Obviously, football is what I love to do and I can't wait to get there and learn, but I don't believe that I'm on earth to be a football player."

There's also the tall task of learning Shanahan's complicated offense, but Lance feels he's had a good head start thanks to the system he was a part of at North Dakota State.

"Just the ability and having to learn the offense at North Dakota State, whether it was from a terminology standpoint or everything we did with play-action, whatever it was, calling protections at the line of scrimmage, and obviously I was super blessed to have a coaching staff that trusted me and believed in me to make those decisions," Lance said. "For me, I think that is a huge advantage for me. I'm excited to get there and learn as much as I possibly can. Being at North Dakota State was a huge blessing for me from that standpoint and I'm thankful for it."

Lance has been overlooked for most of his career, from when he was ignored by football recruiting websites to when he was passed over by most major college football programs. But Thursday night was something different, as Lance was selected higher than all but two players in the 2021 NFL Draft. The expectations for him will be higher than ever, but he'll still have a chip on his shoulder from being ignored earlier in his career and will be eager to prove the 49ers did the right thing by making him their pick.

"I don't think I could have been in a better situation," Lance said. "{Like I said, just super excited to get there and learn. The biggest thing for me is just getting there -- getting to know my teammates and my coaching staff and the guys in the quarterback room."

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