D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Trey Lance eagerly acclimating to life in the NFL and the Bay Area

May 14, 2021 at 1:02 PM--

After not having played in a football game since participating in an exhibition on October 3, 2020, 49ers quarterback and first-round draft pick Trey Lance is understandably excited about finally getting his NFL career underway.

Lance is currently at 49ers facilities in Santa Clara to take part in Friday and Saturday's rookie minicamp, which will mark his first time on the practice field since the 49ers made him their first-round pick on April 29. It'll also be a step forward for Lance after he missed most of his final season at North Dakota State due to the school canceling games because of COVID-19. Lance's lone game action came in an exhibition against Central Arkansas on October 3, and since then, he's been patiently waiting for his next chapter to begin.

Lance's next chapter is finally here now that his time with the 49ers is officially underway, and he's clearly happy to be involved with a team once again while going through the process of acclimating to his new surroundings. The first steps have included diving into the playbook, which will be a tall task to master but one he's gotten a kick out of so far.

"The playbook was fun," Lance told reporters during a media session Friday. "I've been looking forward to learning a new playbook and obviously it's an NFL playbook, so it's going to be a lot. But for me, I've been waiting to learn a new playbook for the last seven-eight months, so it was a ton of fun to finally be able to get into it."

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has said in the past it can take two years for a quarterback to master his offense, so Lance obviously has a long road ahead of him in that regard. But he got off to a good start being part of a pro-style offense at North Dakota State that translates well to the NFL.

"Absolutely. I think that's with any offense," Lance said. "Football is football. Like I said, it's an NFL playbook, so it's a lot. I've got a lot to learn for sure. But I also have great people around me, great coaches, and great guys in the quarterback room. So I'm just looking forward to like I said learning from them as much as I possibly can and very thankful for the people at North Dakota State and my coaching staff and the offense that we ran because I think it did help me, whether it was just verbiage or concepts. It's putting guys in spots at the end of the day."

Lance is also in the early stages of getting to know his teammates. That too is something that's gotten off to a positive start due to Lance getting in some work recently with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

"(Brandon and I) got to work together down in Orange County a little bit last week," Lance said. "It was cool just getting to meet my teammates. That's one thing I've been looking forward to, like I said, for the last six-seven months, so it was awesome to be able to get a little work in with him and get to know him a little bit. I think that's what we're doing, just trying to get better day by day."

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Running back and fellow rookie Trey Sermon is another player Lance has had a chance to work out with, while undrafted rookie wide receiver Austin Watkins of Alabama-Birmingham is someone Lance has a degree of familiarity with from his days in college. But besides that, this week marks the first time Lance has had the opportunity to meet the other members of the 49ers' rookie class.

"It's been really cool to get to know the other guys," Lance said. "Trey Sermon is a guy that I knew. We trained together in Pensacola pre-draft for a few months. So he's a guy I had gotten to know, gotten to hang out with. Other than that I hadn't met any of them personally. Austin Watkins was a guy I had watched a ton of film on because UAB played a couple teams that I played, so I had seen him play a good amount watching opposing teams' defenses. So he was another guy that I was obviously super excited about."

Lance and the other rookies will be able to start building a rapport this week, which will be the first step in the path to him eventually becoming a leader in the locker room.

"I want to be a leader for these guys and be someone that they can lean on, that they can ask questions to, regardless of what it is," Lance said. "So I'm just super looking forward of kind of having our group of guys -- those rookies coming in, our first-year guys -- to hopefully lead them and help them out and get us going in the right direction."

Lance is also looking forward to getting some coaching from the 49ers coaching staff. He'll get a taste of that this weekend before getting a heavier dose once OTAs begin later in the month, while the coaching staff will get an up-close look at its quarterback of the future in a practice setting.

"(They're) just excited to see what I can do. Excited to learn," Lance said. "Obviously, they have trust in me, believe in me, otherwise I wouldn't be here. So I'm just super thankful for the position that I'm in and be able to be here. Our whole offensive staff is really special, so I'm just looking forward to getting out there, competing, and hopefully learning as much as I possibly can."

Once rookie minicamp is complete, Lance plans on taking some time to get to know the Bay Area while also finding a place to live. Lance has already been warned by 49ers staff about how expensive things can get around the Bay, but he's eager to take a better look around while being around his new teammates in the process.

"I definitely appreciated the warning," Lance said. "I knew it would be kind of crazy, but It definitely helped to give me a little bit of a heads up. But yeah, I'm super excited to get more familiar with the area. Obviously, we're locked in right now with rookie minicamp and everything like that, but hopefully over the next few weeks, getting to know the guys better who have been here in the area, getting to hang out with them, and spend some time with them and hang out with them, and like I said, check out the area. Definitely looking forward to it."

But while Lance definitely has a sense of joy about getting his NFL career underway, he's also already moving past the hubbub that surrounded him throughout the NFL Draft. Lance will admit that it was fun for him to put on an NFL jersey for the first time, but it appears he's very quickly entered into a mindset of being all business.

"We had a walkthrough, so I wore my practice jersey a little bit ago. It's pretty cool, obviously," Lance said. "I've kind of gotten past the point where it's surreal. It's work now. So it was probably cooler the day after the draft and draft day and everything like that. Right now, it's my job, so I'm excited to get to work."

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