Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

What Mike McDaniel wants to see from Trey Lance, 49ers offense vs. Chiefs

Aug 11, 2021 at 4:48 PM--

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel spoke with reporters after training camp practice today. Here is everything he had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.

There was a practice stretch where it looked, at least in our eyes, QB Trey Lance could do no wrong. Send him to the Hall of Fame. And then now, there are moments where it's 'Oh, okay he's got to work on that maybe or whatever.' Did you guys ever have those moments where like 'wow, he's so much better than expected,' in some ways? Has he gone through some growing pains?

"Well, I totally see how one observing could feel that way. We kind of temper our emotions in terms of players' productivity in practice and how they execute things. We've been around long enough to know that this game is hard and we know the looks that he's getting and we know plays that we feel that are exceptional to make or plays that you should make. So, he's very much in a normal process from a quarterback perspective. These are invaluable reps that he's getting every day and realistically, we don't harp too much on what happens. It's all about getting better and learning from things so continued mistakes are worrisome. But no, there's nothing that we're really worried about. This is kind of expected territory."

It seems like there's been some protection issues, particularly with that second group over the last few days. Is that a good thing in terms of evaluating him and letting him see that? Or would you rather, obviously you want clean pockets in games, but how about the practices?

"No, it's really something that's encouraging because if you've seen our defensive line, they bring it every day. So that's very normal. It'd be more worrisome if there weren't any protection issues, but from our standpoint, we've been very excited about our protection overall with regard to their techniques and how they're picking things up. And a lot of times, protections can look like it's an O-Line issue, but it's really 'Hey this is a hot and we don't have a blocker for that player and quarterback, you have to dish it.' So, it's been great work and I'm very happy with our protections thus far."

What do you want to see out of Trey specifically on Saturday?

"It's much of the same, it sounds kind of annoying or redundant, but you just want to see players continue to learn from mistakes. And so you're finding those mistakes and that's why we're not sweating it that much when they happen. It's more about how you respond and how you apply specific coaching because there's a lot going on. So, you want to see him go out there and operate. You want to see no procedural penalties, and you want to see him have success and failure and learn from both."

Have you guys decided how much he's going to play yet? Or is that later in the week?

"No, that's something that you wait on. Not because we're procrastinators, more because you want to do justice to each and every practice. So you let players perform. You see how they're progressing and then you approach it from there. We feel like we'd be speaking out of both sides of our mouth, if we were making prejudgments on exact playing time. We know he's going to play. We know, for the most part, what guys are going to play and there's going to be some guys that we think are going to play that don't end up doing so because of the way the game shapes out."

What's the biggest challenge that OL Aaron Banks faces for that right guard spot?

"I would say the biggest challenge is that we have [OL] Dan Brunskill, a very good starting guard and so the competition is fierce for that spot. So it's him trying to play at a higher level than the starter. We don't hand anything out and just because he's not starting doesn't mean we're not in great shape or very happy with him because it has to do with Dan Brunskill and all the people competing for the spot. We're going to play the best player. So if you have several good players, that's not a bad thing."

You have two guys who decided to opt out last season in [OT Shon] Coleman and [WR Travis] Benjamin. Did you give those guys a little bit more time to sort of catch up and get into the flow of things? Are they there yet and are you kind of evaluating them on an even basis now?

"You're aware of it, for sure. The reality is you haven't played in over a year. But really our expectation for every player on the team is that the time that we have here working as a team is invaluable. You can't replace it, so you better get ready for it from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint. There's things that we will probably be lenient on at first, but at this point, everybody has been playing football and last year doesn't exist to all of us."

What are some of the areas you think that Trey Lance needs to really improve on?

"I think like every other quarterback, we'd be really shortchanging all of our players if we're like 'Yep, finished product, were good.' It's really a little of everything in terms of, you know, I mean shoot, he hasn't heard play calls in a stadium with fans ever. That's the perspective that you have to really grasp and whether he does outstanding or he has some rough patches, it's again a part of the process. And that's why we have a whole preseason where we're giving all of these reps to each and every player, so that we can really find out how they respond because the one thing you know in professional football is, there's no such thing as a perfect game for anyone. So everything is about how you really respond to whatever happens on Saturday moving forward."

Has OL Colton McKivitz made some of those second year strides in camp that you guys had hoped for?

"Yes, there has definitely been some growth in his game. We've played him at a couple more positions. We're very versatile that way, [offensive line] coach [Chris] Foerster makes it a priority because he's been in the league a long time and understands that on gameday you only have so many people dressing, so people have to be versatile. For a player that was drafted last year, this is very much a rookie year to a degree because you're just holding onto your football life your first year when you don't have an OTAs and you don't have an offseason to really digest everything. So pretty happy with where he's at and hoping that he'll continue to take steps forward in the near future."

Would you like to get the ball to FB Kyle Juszcyk a little more this season or are you comfortable with his current usage?

"I'm comfortable. We're all very comfortable with his impact on the game. A lot of that goes, well, it's kinda up to the defense and the structure they're presenting and who they're leaving on an island. There's games that we'll get him five or six balls. There's games that he might not get touches. He's a good player and we try to get all of our players balls, but I wouldn't say that we're going out of our way to do X, Y, or Z. We're always trying to really attack defenses where they leave themselves vulnerable."

How do you evaluate when there's pressure in the pocket but the quarterback knows that they're not actually going to get hit? How do you evaluate how they navigate that knowing that there's going to be no contact?

"The biggest thing is from a footwork perspective, how they move in the pocket and whether they feel things or whether they have to see them because when you're seeing the rush, you're not seeing downfield. So you're really trying to evaluate how they negotiate themselves in high-traffic areas. [Head] coach [Kyle] Shanahan does a great job of really emphasizing to defenders to not get right in front of the quarterback and to, as we call, fly by them so we don't get any hands hit on helmets. All of those things are great for evaluating quarterback's pocket movement."

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