Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle shares what he admires about Trey Lance, reveals 49ers’ advantage in tough NFC West

Sep 14, 2021 at 8:35 AM--

Trey Lance received four snaps against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. It wasn't a whole lot of experience for the San Francisco 49ers' developing rookie quarterback, but it was better than nothing—a point that head coach Kyle Shanahan made yesterday.

"I think getting a guy any playing time when he's the number two quarterback helps his development more than getting no playing time," Shanahan responded when questioned about whether or not the limited opportunities hurt Lance's development.

Despite the limited in-game snaps, All-Pro tight end George Kittle likes what he's seen from his rookie quarterback. He joined ESPN's Keyshawn, JWill & Max show and was asked what he's seen from Lance that makes him believe the rookie can develop into a great NFL quarterback.

"Just his commitment to getting better every single day," Kittle responded. "He doesn't make the same mistakes twice. He's definitely a rookie, and you see some of those things. But he progresses, and that's what you want to see; just sort of see guys taking steps in the right direction because that leads to great results.

"Trey's definitely [been] doing that since OTAs, taking a lot of steps, and he's definitely got plenty left to learn. But he's got all the intangibles to be a very good player in the NFL."

The 49ers were fortunate to escape Ford Field with a victory on Sunday after a late-game collapse and a surge by the Lions that made things interesting at the end. San Francisco is 1-0. Of course, so is the rest of the NFC West. Each division rival put a lot of good plays on film in their victories, showing just how competitive the NFC West is expected to be this season.

"NFC West, we've got a lot of [good players] out there," Kittle said. "The Cardinals got Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins. You've got Chandler Jones, Budda Baker. The Rams have Aaron Donald. That's pretty good by itself. And the Seahawks are always just bringing it with Russell Wilson. So you've got guys everywhere.

"But at the end of the day, they've got to go against our defense in Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead and Fred Warner. We have a lot of guys who can make a lot of plays, and I think our offense is going to continue to keep rolling.

"The one thing that we do better than I think anyone else in our division is run the damn ball. That's what we're going to continue to do and be violent, be physical every single week."

Featured back Raheem Mostert is expected to miss about eight weeks with a knee injury. Rookie Elijah Mitchell replaced him during Sunday's game and rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

"I think Elijah stepped in and did a great job," Kittle said. "He ran hard. There's a lot of runs that you'll see on tape that should have been like two-yard runs and ended up being like eight- to 12-yard runs. Knowing you have a running back that can take a short run and fall forward for four or five yards, you're doing something right.

"So, we're just going to continue to try to block and open up big holes for him and whoever else is toting the ball."

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