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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan, George Kittle impressed with 49ers QB Trey Lance

May 25, 2021 at 4:06 PM--

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The 49ers haven't been able to take too much of a look at rookie quarterback and first-round draft pick Trey Lance on the practice field since selecting him on April 29, but what they've seen so far seems to have left a positive impression.

Lance participated in rookie minicamp with the 49ers earlier this month and had his first two organized team activity (OTA) sessions with the team on Monday and Tuesday. The team's tight end George Kittle spoke to reporters on Tuesday about what he's seen from Lance, offering some specifics on why he feels Lance has stood out through two practices.

"He looks a little bit better than a rookie quarterback," Kittle said. "He's out there, he's slinging it. I was really excited yesterday -- he made an awesome throw on a play-action. He found my rookie (tight end) Josh Pederson on a far-corner is what we call it on a rollout, which is like the last guy you throw it to on the play. The fact that he found him in his first ever rollout pretty cool. Just seeing him out there and trying to figure it out."

Kittle added that Lance's ability to make that type of decision in his early days of learning head coach Kyle Shanahan's complicated offense is a positive sign.

"If you can pick up this offense as a rookie and be able to analyze it and throw it to the right guy and at the same time overcome coaching to make a play, it's impressive," Kittle said. "I just can't wait to see what these next couple OTAs days give Trey and allow him to continue to move forward."

Shanahan spoke with reporters about Lance on Tuesday as well but said he hasn't been focused too much on how good Lance has looked on the field. Instead, Shanahan is interested more in finding out about who Lance is as a player and how he's been acclimating to his new surroundings.

"The player, you know the ability he has," Shanahan said. "You can see that on tape. You don't really come and look at it from a coaching standpoint each day like, 'How'd he do today? Is he that good? Is he not?' More you want to get to know the guy. I've got an idea of who I think the person is, and being with him these last two weeks, he's been everything that we've hoped and more. I think he's a very smart kid, he's a very humble kid. I think he's a very natural leader. I think the guys have gravitated to him."

Lance is in the process of making a big jump from FCS-level competition in college at North Dakota State to being a franchise quarterback in the making in the NFL, but the 49ers aren't shying away from giving him a lot to handle in the early going. To this point, it sounds like Lance has been passing every test.

"It's been fun to throw a lot at him," Shanahan said. "You do it for two days in rookie minicamp and to watch him take it all in, from how he calls a play in the huddle to how he takes a snap under center to how he stands in shotgun to how he does everything, it's new. We're asking him to do something different. To absorb all that in and still handle yourself the right way, to me that is impressive. That's what I've expected from him and haven't been disappointed in that."

Lance and the 49ers will be back on the field on Thursday, May 27 for their next OTA session, then will have seven sessions from June 1 to June 10 before mandatory minicamp on June 15-17. How he progresses from now until then will undoubtedly be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the 49ers as they enter into the summer.

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