Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan: 49ers pass catchers ‘better get used to’ QB Trey Lance’s fastballs

Aug 23, 2021 at 7:14 AM--

Does 49ers quarterback Trey Lance throw the ball too hard to his receivers at close range? Perhaps he does on occasion, as he showed against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday evening. But, with a strong-armed quarterback like Lance under center, 49ers receivers also need to stay ready to catch passes that will be flying at them at a higher speed than usual.

Lance had more than one pass bounce off the hands of an intended receiver in Sunday's 15-10 win over the Chargers, one of which led to his lone interception in the game. The interception, which was on a high pass intended for Mohamed Sanu, came not long after he fired a pass off the hands of wide receiver Deebo Samuel in his first series of the game. The passes weren't uncatchable, but Lance's accuracy could have been better, and there's also a question of whether or not he should have taken some velocity off the ball on those throws.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that he thought Samuel should have come down with the ball on the first play in question but put more of the blame on Lance for the interception.

"Trey came in, wanted to get him going a little bit the first third down. I thought Deebo should have made that play over the middle too," Shanahan said. "After that, we kind of had the same situation on the next third down on the third series. I thought that one was a little too hard for Sanu to come down with. It would have been a very great catch."

Shanahan went on to say that it would be ideal for Lance to make his passes as catchable as possible but that the 49ers pass catchers need to remain aware that Lance may be putting more heat on his passes than current starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

"I think when you can throw it really hard and you're amped up and you're trying to go, some of those things are going to happen," Shanahan said. "You'd love to make it easier and make it much more catchable balls, but also our guys better get used to it too. He throws pretty hard. Some are tougher than others, but I don't think that had to do with a couple of them."

Lance said after the game that he is capable of putting more velocity on his passes than he already does, but he also knows it's best for his job to make his passes easier for his receivers to catch.

"I'm definitely not throwing the ball as hard as I can every throw," Lance said. "For me, my mindset's throwing catchable passes. I know the receivers appreciate it, and their hands and fingers appreciate it as well. Like I said, the one to Deebo, the one to Mo, those are both on me for sure. If I put it in a spot where they can't drop it, it makes it a lot easier on them, makes it a lot easier on me, and obviously they can catch and run."

Fortunately, Lance learned from his early setbacks against the Chargers and bounced back to have a productive outing. It'll prove to be another valuable lesson for him as he continues to grow into an eventual NFL franchise quarterback.

"I think the first two honestly for me, confidence-wise and just mentally, I thought went a lot better than they probably looked," Lance said. "With the one throw to Deebo just missing a little bit behind him and then the tipped ball that I threw to Mo coming inside, the same thing. I knew I missed a similar throw in cut to Deebo -- missed a little behind him, so I wanted to make sure I put it in front of him. If I throw Mo a better ball, he probably scores on that play on his birthday. So I was frustrated for sure, but at the same time I learned so much from each of those drives that it was easy to just turn the page. I think I was as confident as that point on as I went throughout the game."

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