Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

DeMeco Ryans on how Trey Lance is helping the 49ers defense improve

Jul 31, 2021 at 1:59 PM--

In previous practices, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance had mostly stuck with showing off his arm while remaining in the pocket. Saturday was different, though. The rookie showed off his ability to make things happen with his legs, too, on designed runs and while scrambling out of the pocket.

Lance's athleticism is just one quality that made the quarterback appealing to Kyle Shanahan leading to the draft. The head coach loved Lance's ability to throw the football downfield. The quarterback using his legs to frustrate opposing defenses was just a bonus. In addition to Lance's 2,786 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns in 2019 with North Dakota State, he had 1,100 yards and 14 more scores on the ground.

The 49ers defense has to face Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray four times a year. Both can hurt you with their improvisation. So going against Lance in practice will only make the 49ers defense better.

"I'm very appreciative for our offense when they put those plays in, and the zone-read type plays, QB-movement runs," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said after Saturday's practice. "It's very helpful for us as a defense. So when we do face teams like that during the season, it's not the first time that we're preparing for it.

"So, we have a chance to go through it, to learn. Our guys get a chance to learn actually how to defend it versus different defenses. So, it's really, really great work for us, and like you said, [Lance] broke out today on a couple. He's doing an excellent job of running those plays as well. It's good work on both sides. Iron sharpening iron."

Facing Lance in practice means the defense doesn't have to go against a receiver or running back who is trying to mimic the style of a dynamic quarterback. Ryans feels getting those looks from an actual quarterback is a significant benefit, considering they will face similar opponents multiple times a year.

"I think for us, getting a great look from Trey, a very dynamic runner, and thrower, he can do it all," Ryans said. "So for us to get a great look from him, it's the best thing we can ask for, for a defense. And we don't have to manufacture it by putting a wide receiver at quarterback or a running back back there and trying to do the old Wildcat stuff. We get a real live look at very bona fide quarterback who's capable of running all those players."

For offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, Saturday's practice was definitely different than anything he has done in previous years. He knew it was coming, though. He just didn't know when.

"He's a specimen. He rips the ball out there," McGlinchey told reporters. "It's been funny because we were kind of waiting for it. We've been waiting to see when he does take off, how it goes. I think we ran three or four read zones (today), which is probably three or four more than we have ever done in my four years here. But it's exciting. Trey's an exciting football player. ... The sky's the limit for our football team with both him and Jimmy (Garoppolo) here."

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