Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Baldinger saw ‘John Elway-type’ throws from 49ers rookie Trey Lance

Jan 4, 2022 at 2:59 PM--

It's safe to say that NFL Media analyst Brian Baldinger was impressed with San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance during Sunday's win over the Houston Texans. It had been nearly three months since the 21-year-old passer's last—and only—start. During that Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Lance completed just 51.7 percent of his passes. That number improved to 69.6 percent against the Texans.

"I thought he was good," Baldinger said Tuesday morning on 95.7 The Game's The Morning Roast when asked about Lance's play from the pocket. "I can't find any glaring mistakes from Trey this past weekend. I thought he saw the field really well, considering he hadn't really played in three months. ... I thought he threw the ball with real touch when he had to. I thought he lasered it when he had to. It's hard to find, really, any criticism."

Baldinger acknowledges that Lance was going up against the Texans. A tougher test—the Los Angeles Rams—awaits the rookie, should he need to start again this weekend. Still, that doesn't take anything away from Baldinger's analysis of Lance from Sunday's performance.

"The reason why he was the third pick in the draft is he's a big, strong kid with a big, strong arm," Baldinger shared. "You saw that arm—the throw to [wide receiver] Deebo [Samuel] down the field, across the field. I mean, those are—I'm not saying he's John Elway—but those are John Elway-type throws. Just a big arm, and he's got a cannon, and it comes out hot.

"I said early in this preseason that there was way too many drops when Trey Lance was throwing the ball. You had to get used to catching a different ball. The ball comes out hot, stop dropping it. Get on the gun machine. Crank it up."

Baldinger adds that having Lance under center creates a challenge for opposing defenses—one that wasn't there with Jimmy Garoppolo. With Lance in the game, those defenses have to respect the quarterback's running ability.

"You watch the Houston linebackers on Sunday with Trey Lance under center, they were confused," Baldinger said, "because he's carrying out his boot-action fake after he's handing it off, and they were just frozen for a second. And that's enough time for [tackle] Trent [Williams] to go pick off the linebacker or [guard] Laken [Tomlinson] to go get up to the second level. And it was a big part of the running success."

Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell ended up having a game-high 119 rushing yards on 21 carries thanks to the 49ers' power-football attack.

Added Baldinger: "To me, that was a real game-plan thing that [head coach Kyle] Shanahan did on Sunday, was put Trey Lance under center, hand the ball off, and let's do everything off that. And I loved it. I really did."

You can listen to the entire 95.7 The Game interview with Baldinger below.

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