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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance discusses ‘heated’ conversations with Fred Warner that led to 49ers rookie’s improvement

Dec 31, 2021 at 4:13 PM--

Earlier this week, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner revealed that he had to step in during practices this season and offer some advice to rookie quarterback Trey Lance. Lance, leading the scout team, was so focused on not making a mistake that he wasn't giving the defense the looks they needed. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old also wasn't learning from his mistakes because of his overcautious approach.

"I'll say there was a time when he maybe wanted to not make mistakes out there against us," Warner explained. "He would hold onto the football, and he just likes to run and stuff. So I had to kind of pull him to the side and be like, 'Hey, Trey, listen. This is your time to make mistakes and to try to fit balls into tight areas, kind of just make it hard for yourself, go out there and just see what you can do. Because out here [on the practice field], it doesn't matter. You're not trying to win a game. You're trying to get better as a player.'"

Warner credited his conversations as being part of the reason why Lance has improved since we last saw him throw a pass on October 10 against the Arizona Cardinals. Warner has even gone as far as to say that Lance has been "dicing" up the defense in practices.

For the first time since October, the 49ers allowed Lance to speak with reporters. It makes sense. Most expect the rookie to start on Sunday against the Houston Texans due to Jimmy Garoppolo's thumb injury. Depending on the severity of that injury, we could see Lance start multiple games, possibly into the playoffs—assuming the 49ers reach the postseason. Although, San Francisco hasn't even officially eliminated Garoppolo's chances of playing on Sunday, listing him as "doubtful" on the game status report.

Lance was asked about those conversations with Warner and what he got from them.

"Yeah, we've had that conversation a couple times," Lance told reporters. "Sometimes maybe more heated than others. I don't necessarily want to say heated, but I'm a competitor. Fred's obviously one of the best competitors I've ever been around. And for him to care, not only about the look they're getting, but also my development, him kind of pulling me off to the side or maybe us shouting across the line of scrimmage, whatever it was.

"It's kind of finding a happy medium between giving those guys a look, obviously, and finding a way to make myself better. Not necessarily finding a happy medium, but finding a way to make myself better while giving those guys the looks. And even if it's throwing a ball that I necessarily don't want to throw, it's important for those guys, and obviously, I can get something out of it too. Finding a way to complete that pass."

Lance shared that he has learned a lot from running the scout-team offense, emulating other NFL quarterbacks. Sometimes that means mimicking a more versatile and mobile passer, like himself. Other times, it means stepping outside his comfort zone, avoiding the instant to run with the football, and staying within the pocket.

"I was Justin Fields when we played Chicago," Lance said. "Obviously, he can move. Then I went to play Kirk [Cousins]. I think I gain a lot from both of those. Obviously, I think our D-line is really good, so I appreciate it when I can play kind of how I play, and be off-schedule. But when I'm emulating for the defense a quarterback that doesn't move necessarily a lot, and doesn't play off-schedule, I think there's things that I gain from that, for sure.

"I get used to making different throws that I don't necessarily see myself making. But at the same time, it's good to get those reps."

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