Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NFL analyst believes 49ers concerned about Trey Lance’s arm fitness

Marc Adams
May 19, 2022 at 10:46 AM--

On Wednesday, David Bonilla, of 49ers Webzone, reported on comments made by Ryan Harris, a former offensive lineman turned broadcaster and analyst, who announced the latest in the "Trey Lance is a bust" world tour. The San Francisco 49ers' young signal-caller has faced a barrage of questions and statements from national media, suggesting the second-year QB is not ready to be named the starter.

The fact that Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the 49ers roster doesn't help. But the team has said they believe in Lance and that he's progressing well. The continued national opinions and reports, however, have suggested the opposite.

Harris, on CBS Sports HQ, said, "But I'm here to tell you, after people I've talked to, everyone I've spoken to expected Jimmy Garoppolo to start [Week 1 against the Bears].

"From players I've talked to and coaches I've talked to who are at the 49ers, Trey Lance is really leaving a lot to be desired in terms of the fitness of his arm, whether or not he can digest the playbook, and can really start to process the game at a high level."

Hearing that a rookie quarterback is having trouble digesting the playbook (especially one as large and complex as the Kyle Shanahan's) and being a little slow in processing the game at a high level is not uncommon. Most rookie quarterbacks struggle to make the leap to the NFL.

The bigger concerns in what Harris said focused on two areas: his teammates and his arm.

If Harris has truly spoken with current players and coaches within the 49ers organization, that would be a concern. It's hard to imagine, though, that Lance's current teammates or coaches would be saying the things being reported. Especially when numerous 49ers players have given unsolicited, raving reviews of the QB's talent in practice.

The other concern, if teammates and coaches have truly spoken on this, is that there are problems with Lance's arm.

Harris stated, "Trey Lance is really leaving a lot to be desired in terms of the fitness of his arm..." A lot of people were wondering what that even means. Is that an accuracy issue? A velocity/strength issue? By all accounts, Lance has a big arm. What does "the fitness of his arm" reference?

No one seemed to know, so I asked. I reached out to Harris on Twitter and asked him to define what arm fitness is.

Harris responded, saying, "Arm Fitness- the ability to consistently throw the football all season long and beyond to the playoffs. This can be fixed through focused off-season training and a commitment to arm care."

It sounds like Harris is saying there are concerns about whether or not Lance can maintain his arm strength for a full season. We don't normally hear these things about quarterbacks. Pitchers, yes. But not quarterbacks.

So just to summarize: Harris is stating that he's directly spoken to current 49ers players and coaches and that some have expressed concerns over whether or not Lance can continue to throw the ball with velocity for a full season. If those words have been uttered by current players and coaches, that is a little worrisome.

Also in Harris' response, he added that this issue "can be fixed through focused off-season training and a commitment to arm care." Are there concerns that Lance isn't already committed to arm care? I haven't heard that. He appears to be a hard worker in the offseason, as well as during training camp and the regular season.

Then there's the statement made by Matt Lombardo of FanSided, who went on 95.7 The Game a day after tweeting, "I have heard that the 49ers staff has been continually underwhelmed by Trey Lance..." On the radio, Lombardo also suggested something about Lance's arm.

"This all stems from a conversation that I had with an executive who's pretty tight with people within the 49ers organization," Lombardo explained. "Then following up with a couple of members of the coaching staff. The feeling around San Francisco, dating back to last summer during training camp, was a little bit of disappointment over the Trey Lance that arrived in training camp versus what they saw on film at North Dakota State from an arm-strength standpoint, from a deep-ball accuracy standpoint.

"And the questions that I keep hearing about the deep-ball accuracy and the arm strength in practice, some whispers about how quickly he is understanding the playbook, and all of those things, the general vibe is this might not have been what the 49ers hoped they were getting when they gave up all that draft capital last year to go and get him."

Lombardo did admit, however, that some of his statements may not accurately predict where Lance currently is. In other words, it sounds like much of his information was old, as in almost a year old.

Perhaps that is simply the case. The statements from those who have said Lance isn't ready, or that something isn't right, or have questioned his arm, may simply be old statements, or new statements based on old information. Could it be that Lance came to training camp last year with a tired arm and didn't look the same at first?

Maybe that's all it is. One thing is for sure—the kid deserves a chance to show us.

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