Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Young says 49ers’ Trey Lance is ‘awesomely raw’

Marc Adams
Oct 14, 2021 at 10:51 AM--

Hall-of-Fame quarterback Steve Young appeared on KNBR Radio for his weekly show to discuss the San Francisco 49ers. He had plenty to say about 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance, and his starting debut last Sunday in Arizona.

"Well, I mean he is awesomely raw," Young told KNBR's 'Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks' on Wednesday. "There is some stuff, but you know it is moving very quickly. Quarterbacking is about coming to a place where no matter how crazy it is, how intense the moment -- it's how quiet your mind is. When your mind is quiet and you own the data, and you own the moment, then your body, that's when the measure of you as an athlete comes out.

"It's a wonderful place to get to, but until it does you're always trying to get to manage your brain being overwhelmed with data, with trying to keep up, running from play to play, the pressure of it -- 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to screw up again!' A million thoughts come into your brain in the three seconds you drop back to throw the football. Your brain is just your own enemy for a long time. Trey is just scratching the surface."

Lance fared well in his first start. There were some good moments, and plenty of moments from which he can learn. The rookie passed for 192 yards, and added another 89 yards on the ground, on 16 carries, including a collision at the goal line. On Monday, Kyle Shanahan announced that Lance had suffered a sprained left knee, and could miss one to two weeks.

When asked about how many times Lance ran the ball on Sunday, Young replied, "That's not replicable, right? That's not something we can keep doing. Clearly, it was an effort to get him kind of in the mix. What is obvious to me is that [Lance] isn't trusted. Right? He's young, first game --- and look when I say not trusted people are going to overreact. What rookie in his first start is trusted?

"What I'm saying is that I don't want to put him in a spot where, I know for the fact that if I can get him on the run that's something he is very comfortable with and maybe we can get away with some things, but I think the Cardinals just played it really well. It wasn't like there were these big gashing runs. When the 11th guy out of the huddle, the quarterback, is running the ball, you hope you have the extra little blocker and the deception and not so many tough yards."

Young mentioned that when he was a young quarterback, he would take off running without fully going through his progressions. He said the 49ers don't want to let Lance get into a mode where he's doing that. He gave an example of running to gain five yards, while Jerry Rice is wide open. It's not something Young's teammates and coaches would appreciate. Lance's teammates and coaches are likely to feel the same way.

Not to mention the toll it takes on his body, being hit so many times, like a running back would. Young made the point to say that he learned quickly not to be a running quarterback, but rather to learn how to be a passer and go through his progressions. Lance has to do the same.

But he also had some issues with the way Lance was used, from a schematic standpoint. He mentioned that while most offensive linemen would prefer runs that are schemed and called in the huddle (because they expect it and know where the quarterback is going), as opposed to unplanned runs, Young believes the most effective running plays from a quarterback are the ones that are not planned.

"You do not want Trey Lance running out there for the tough yards," said Young. "Eighty percent of the yards the quarterback gets should be uncontested. That's the whole point."

And it's the unplanned runs where the quarterback is allowed to run without taking as many hits. This is something the young quarterback will learn. And as he does, the scheme, and play-calling, should reflect that.

Listen to the full interview with Steve Young on KNBR below.

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