Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Fred Warner: Practicing against Trey Lance made me a better player

Mar 5, 2022 at 6:32 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are high on quarterback Trey Lance's potential. Teammates and coaches praise last year's No. 3 overall pick whenever asked about him. The 49ers are hoping a season spent mainly on the sidelines, learning behind veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, has prepared Lance to take over in 2022.

San Francisco will likely trade Garoppolo this offseason, possibly in the next couple of weeks. That will leave Lance as the top quarterback on the depth chart. The 49ers took the Patrick Mahomes approach in developing Lance, sitting him during his rookie campaign and giving him time to learn head coach Kyle Shanahan's complex offense.

Lance did start two games, only because injuries sidelined Garoppolo. In total, the young quarterback played just 178 snaps during his rookie campaign.

One 49ers teammate believes the 49ers' development plan was the correct approach.

"I'm really happy with what they did in terms of his plan; let him sit behind Jimmy, learn the offense, learn the system, learn how to be a pro," star linebacker Fred Warner told his former teammate, Richard Sherman, on The Richard Sherman Podcast. "He didn't play college football for a year, played at North Dakota State. I think he has a handful of games that he's even played at the college level."

Despite Lance's limited collegiate experience, Warner has been impressed by the 21-year-old's maturity in handling the leap to the NFL.

"He's as mature as they come," Warner said. "That's why he reminds me a lot of myself. I feel like I came in, and that's what everybody was telling me. 'Oh yeah, you're mature for your age.' And I feel like that's exactly how he is. He's got the right mindset. He didn't come in with this cocky arrogance, like, 'I'm [the No. 3 overall] pick. I'm this. I'm that.' He knew exactly where he stood.

"He came in, he was hungry to learn, had a thirst for learning, and asked Jimmy all the questions, asked the coaching staff all the questions. [He] even [asked] defensive players, even myself, how to be a pro, and how to compete, and all this kind of stuff.

"I think as his confidence continued to grow throughout the year, you started to see those 'Wow' moments that we all talk about in the practices. In the couple of games that he did play, I feel like he did some great things in those games as well. I can only say from what I watched from the sidelines during the game, but going against that kid every single day in practice for sure made me a better player. I think all the DBs, everybody else on the defensive side would say the same thing."

Lance fell into a unique situation. Typically, being drafted No. 3 overall means going to a rebuilding roster and preparing yourself for some tough years ahead. However, the 49ers have been to two NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl in the past three seasons. The roster is built to win now, so it's not inconceivable that Lance finds success from the start.

Warner knows the burden of winning a championship can't be placed solely on Lance's shoulders.

"This team is very loaded. You know we've got a lot of good players. So, he has a very good team which is a great starting point for him to have a great career."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Warner below.

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