D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

49ers beat reporter says QB Trey Lance showed OTA improvement like no player he’s seen

Jun 29, 2021 at 5:48 PM--

Longtime beat reporter Matt Maiocco has seen hundreds of players come and go during his many years of covering the San Francisco 49ers, but it sounds like none of them stood out in the way quarterback and first-round pick Trey Lance did during this year's OTAs.

Maiocco joined Sports Radio KJR in Seattle on Tuesday to talk about what he's seen from Lance so far and what to expect from him down the road. Maiocco told Seahawks beat reporter Gregg Bell that the improvement he saw from Lance over a short period of time in OTAs may have been at a level he hasn't seen from other 49ers players.

"He might be the only person since I've been covering the team, which is about a quarter of a (century), that from one week of OTAs to the next week, you could actually see the improvement," Maiocco said. "The first week we went out there and he just kind of seemed to be a little bit unsure of himself, a tick slow. The ball was sailing high. You could tell there was just a lot going on in his head. And in the next week, he went out there and you could tell -- he was directing traffic, moving guys from spot A to spot B, and he threw the ball a little bit more accurately. It's not often that you see a dramatic change that you can see with your naked eye."

49ers general manager John Lynch had the same assessment as Maiocco. It's important to note, of course, that OTAs don't present the same level of challenge Lance will face once pads come on in training camp and in the preseason, but so far, the verdict is very positive.

"I think I asked John Lynch a week or so after that. I was like, 'Hey, was I seeing things right?'" Maiocco said. "I was only to watch a couple of those practices -- only two of the seven practices I think it was I was able to see. And he was like, 'No, that's exactly how we felt.' You could actually see him growing and learning. He's putting in the time. I'm not ready to stamp his ticket to Canton or anything, but so far he is certainly the guy they thought he would be from a character standpoint, a work ethic standpoint. Then it doesn't take long to see the physical tools as well."

Maiocco also discussed what he learned during a recent trip he took to Fargo, North Dakota for an upcoming story on Lance ("What was interesting was the culture at North Dakota State in the quarterback room is exactly what the 49ers are going for right now," Maiocco said), while also giving his thoughts on what to expect from Lance this season, at least initially.

"I would fully expect them to utilize Trey Lance, probably mostly as a runner early in his career," Maiocco said. "Get him in for two or three plays a game, then you can work stuff off of that where you can throw the ball down the field and give him little packages where he can be successful. The last thing you want to do with the number three overall pick is just throw him out there and sink or swim and he takes a beating and he lacks confidence."

The full interview runs just over 10 minutes. Click here to listen.

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