Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

49ers veterans reflect on first season with QB Trey Lance: ‘He’s an amazing young man’

Jan 31, 2022 at 5:23 PM--

With the 2021 season officially in the books, the Trey Lance era is now expected to be a matter of months (if not weeks) away for the San Francisco 49ers. And when he eventually takes over as the team's starting quarterback, his teammates will already have a good idea of what to expect, although they are also eager to see exactly what everything will look like once Lance gets fully settled into his NFL career.

Monday brought a number of year-end media sessions for 49ers players, during which several of them reflected on what they saw from Lance throughout his first season with the team after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Fans got to see a limited amount of Lance over the course of the season, as he appeared in six games (two starts) and threw for 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions on 41-of-71 passing while rushing for 168 yards and one touchdown on 38 carries. But 49ers players got to see much more of Lance throughout the year, and on Monday, they shared some of their observations as well as what they think he needs to do in order to continue to grow as an NFL player.

Here's a rundown of what the 49ers said about Lance on Monday.

* Fullback Kyle Juszczyk

While many are looking ahead to next season when it comes to Lance, Juszczyk points out that he'll need to put together a strong offseason before heading into what's expected to be his first year as the starter. Lance doesn't yet have a full NFL offseason under his belt, but he'll get the opportunity to get 2022 off to a good start in the months ahead by putting in the work needed off the field and setting the right tone once offseason workouts begin.

"I think I'm excited to see what he does with his offseason because I've seen what kind of work ethic he has," Juszczyk said. "I've seen what kind of drive he has with the type of person he is. I know he's one that's going to dedicate everything to preparing himself and getting ready and being ready to lead this team if that's what he's asked to do next season."

As Juszczyk says, Lance hasn't given any reason to think he won't deliver this offseason in the way the 49ers are expecting he will.

"I think he's definitely going to be the type of guy who's going to step up to the plate and be ready to do that," Juszczyk said.

* Safety Jimmie Ward

Ward got plenty of looks at Lance in practice throughout the season. He compared some of the things he saw from Lance to the types of highlight plays produced by the league's elite quarterbacks.

"You know he can throw a football," Ward said. "You know that much. He's got a lot of power in his arm. We know he's an athlete, alright. We're all athletes, but I'm saying he's athletic. He likes to move around in the pocket to throw the ball, extend downs. Some of the stuff that you see Jimmy (Garoppolo) doing from time to time, you see Patrick Mahomes doing, you see Kyler Murray's doing, you see Aaron Rodgers doing, yeah, he has that. He has that inside of him. He's a competitor."

Ward also pointed out the size of Lance's frame (6-4, 224) as being an asset that should continue to grow as his career progresses.

"He's a big body too," Ward said. "I don't really know how big he is, but he's big and he's physical and he's young too, so his body's only going to fill out even more as he gets older."

* Defensive lineman Arik Armstead

Armstead was impressed with Lance's talent but seemed just as impressed at how Lance handled himself as a rookie. Armstead said Lance was an ideal rookie who kept his focus on learning instead of making a lot of noise.

"Definitely very talented. Doesn't seem to get rattled," Armstead said. "I'm excited for his future and his career. I can't wait to see what he does. I'm sure everyone's excited and ready to see it. I'm a big, big fan of his. He's a great guy, great teammate. It's been great getting to know him this year. He's been great rookie, coming in as a young guy, not talking too much, learning and trying to figure out what his career's going to look like in the NFL. So I'm excited to see it."

Armstead also said Lance's desire to learn caused him to fit in well in the locker room.

"Just one of the guys," Armstead said. "He came in, and that's what you want to see out of a young player is someone who doesn't think they know everything. They just come in and they're eager to learn, they're eager to be a part of integrating into the culture, and I think that's what he did this year."

* Offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson

Tomlinson's contract with the 49ers is set to expire when free agency begins in March, so it remains to be seen if he'll be blocking for Lance next season (he made it pretty clear he'd like that to be the case). But he liked what he saw from Lance in 2021, especially when it came to picking up on his coaching.

"He's been like a sponge, absorbing everything that coaches have been throwing at him," Tomlinson said. "He's an amazing young man. The future's bright for him. I'm excited for him."

* Linebacker Fred Warner

Warner struck up a friendship with Lance during the season even though the two of them are on opposite sides of the ball. He spoke late in the season about some of the pointed discussions he had with Lance that led to some improvement in practice, and along the way he discovered that the two of them have a lot in common.

"You always for sure get closer with teammates when you're competing with one another day in and day out," Warner said. "I think me and Trey are very similar in a lot of ways on and off the field, just as individuals. That's why I feel like him and I can relate to one another. I think he's as professional as they come, very mature for his age. I think he's built of the right stuff to continue to grow and get better as he goes throughout his career."

Warner said Lance reminds him of how he was during his first season, and he expects Lance to eventually become more vocal once he gets more experience under his belt.

"I think as a rookie quarterback on the scout team, it's hard to kind of get after the four-year middle linebacker on the other team," Warner said. "But he does it through his play. I think as he grows more comfortable and confident in his game, that's when the chirping and all that stuff will come out, just as it did for me. I wasn't chirping at Jimmy in my first year, but now I'm the guy who really from a vocal standpoint is getting after people just because I feel like that's my way of getting the best of everyone and making it a competitive environment. But with the conversations I've had with Trey off the field too, I feel like we're very similar in that way."

* Offensive tackle Trent Williams

Williams opened some eyes back in training camp when he called Lance "a generational talent." He used that label again on Monday, saying that Lance just needs to find a way to translate that talent to the field.

"I have no doubt in my mind he can be a generational (talent)," Williams said. "He is a generational talent; now it's just putting that talent together with the work ethic and making it come together on Sundays."

Williams had a lot more to say about Lance, including a story about how he gave some teaching to Lance on the day of the NFC Championship.

"I think he grew a lot—a tremendous amount," Williams said. "Trey is a very inquisitive person. He's not one of the people who thinks he knows it all. He's somebody who comes to learn and comes to work. He's always picking brains around him no matter what position you play. We even had a talk last night about quarterback play and how it marries over to the offensive line and stuff like that for like an hour. So he's that type of individual."

One of the most encouraging thoughts Williams provided about Lance was him suggesting that everything was going according to plan in terms of the young quarterback's development. The 2021 season was crucial for Lance even though he didn't see much playing time, and Williams said things went the way they needed to in that regard behind closed doors.

"I think this year it played out how everybody in the organization thought it would," Williams said. "Obviously they wanted to give him a year to kind of continue to develop as being a 21-year-old—just was old enough to buy his first beer or a pack of cigarettes a few months ago. We can't just put the weight of the world on his shoulders, even though he is a young man who can handle it. But I think it went exactly how we wanted it to go. He developed very nicely on the practice squad. He was 1-1 as a starter, should have been 2-0. He came in and won a game for us when we were in playoff mode. If we would have lost that game, we wouldn't have been in the playoffs and there wouldn't have been a yesterday.

"So I definitely think he came in and did what he was supposed to do. He was in there, him and Jimmy fed off each other and formed each other. He learned, and we'll see what next year brings. Hopefully he'll get a full offseason to work in the right direction, know what he's working for after going through a full season."

* Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk didn't offer any reflections on Lance as a player, but he did provide a tidbit on something Lance will be doing to keep busy in the months ahead. Aiyuk said he expects to catch some passes with Lance, along with backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld.

"Trey and I, we have the same trainer," Aiyuk said. "We both work out together down in Southern California, so I've talked to him. I've talked to Nate as well. We'll be down there throwing together, working out together."

Related News

Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

PFF: 49ers QB Trey Lance one of players under most pressure to perform in Year 2

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Jun 18

While there are several success stories of rookies flourishing immediately in the NFL, there are certain players, especially quarterbacks, whose learning curves require some more seasoning. Take Peyton Manning, who threw for 28 interceptions in his rookie year before becoming one of the best quarterbacks of all time, as an example. Earlier this week, PFF named ten players from the 2021 NFL Draft class that are under the most pressure to perform in Year 2, and unsurprisingly, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance was amongst the group. Lance, who was selected third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, played

Former NFL player compares 49ers' Trey Lance to Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Jun 19

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has started to attract serious attention from the media, as many analysts are coming on board with the 22-year-old's potential as he enters his second NFL season. During a recent appearance on NFL Total Access, former Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones continued the trend, going as far as comparing Lance to his former quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. "I believe we're looking at a bonafide superstar [in Lance], like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers," Jones said. "We had a small sample size of Aaron Rodgers, but all you heard out of the locker room and the people around Aaron was, 'Just wait. You

Bruschi: 49ers' Trey Lance has 'most to prove' among second-year QBs

By David Bonilla
Jun 24

The quarterbacks from the 2021 draft class will be linked together and compared for a long time. Most received a significant amount of playing time during their rookie seasons. The one who did not was San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance. He started just two games and spent most of his freshman NFL season learning behind veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. The upcoming season will be different, though. Lance is slated to become the 49ers' full-time starter, with Garoppolo likely to be shipped out of Santa Clara. One ESPN analyst believes Lance has the most to prove among the 2021 first-round quarterback class that also includes Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. "He is the one that has the most to prove because you almost have to prove your

Five Reasons to Trust Trey Lance as 49ers' Quarterback

By Bill Brown
Jun 25

With the debate raging in the media and fandom about whether Trey Lance will start this year, an important fact has been lost by some. The team says Lance will start. That begs several questions. What kind of quarterback is Trey Lance? What can fans expect from this fledgling play-caller? Can Lance buck the "Shanahan Curse" and win without changing his first name to "Jimmy?" These are fair questions (Well, maybe the last one is a bit facetious.). With all this in mind, here are five reasons to trust Trey Lance as the 49ers' starting quarterback this season: He has displayed incredible athletic potential. Trey Lance's college tape litters the internet. It isn't unusual to discover hours of footage covering all the plays


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone