Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not worried about 49ers’ Trey Lance...and you shouldn’t be either

Marc Adams
May 20, 2022 at 1:29 PM--

San Francisco 49ers fans are fed up, and rightfully so, at the way the team's young quarterback Trey Lance is being treated in the media. For months now, there have been rumors and statements, mostly from national media types, designating Lance a bust, or suggesting the 49ers are concerned about him. As you'll recall, Lance only played ten quarters of football last season.

Can ten quarters really tell us anything? Of course not. Especially when it comes to NFL rookies trying to play QB.

It's baffling that this agenda is being pushed. But the ferocity at which it keeps coming is disturbing. Either the 49ers are allowing it because they believe it somehow gives them a competitive advantage, or they're pushing it to keep Jimmy Garopollo a hot commodity on the trade market.

Or maybe the 49ers have nothing to do with it, and it's just a number of media people trying to get attention. And the 49ers don't feel they need to respond.

Either way, it's not influencing how I feel about Trey Lance. I believe he has the physical tools, the mental makeup, and the work ethic to be great. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. But I believe in him. I'm a little concerned about his offensive line. But I'm not worried about Lance.

Here's why:

We still don't know the true source of the rumors

Brian Renick, a fellow 49ers Webzone writer, co-host of the Denim Dungeon Podcast (and the guy who edits my work so that I sound smarter than I am), wrote a story about the possibility of former 49ers QB coach Rich Scangarello being one of the sources.

In the article, Renick references a tweet by Matt Lombardo of FanSided who tweeted out that the 49ers have been "continually underwhelmed by Trey Lance…" And as Renick reported, "The following morning, Lombardo was on 95.7 The Game to further clarify his comments.

Lombardo said, "This all stems from a conversation that I had with an executive who's pretty tight with people within the 49ers organization. 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."

Renick then connected the dots between Scangarello and Lombardo, stating, "Lombardo is a Philadelphia-area reporter, and prior to returning to the 49ers as quarterbacks coach for the 2021 season, Rich Scangarello spent the 2020 season as a Senior Offensive Assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles. While there is no direct connection that can be made—no Lombardo penned articles about Scangarello or anything of that nature—it stands to reason that the two know each other in some capacity."

Of course, this doesn't mean Scangarello is Lombardo's source. Renick admitted as much. But the writer did make an interesting observation about some comments Scangarello made on a podcast back in March.

"On a March 16th episode of the podcast Tape Heads," Renick wrote, "Scangarello was asked about scouting quarterbacks in the draft and he said, 'do you want a guy who throws it hard and 70 yards or a guy that runs really fast, or do you want a guy who throws with anticipation, on time, allows Y.A.C., processes, a natural leader, those qualities?' (h/t Grant Cohn of SI)"

He certainly could have been talking about Lance. Or even Justin Fields.

Even if Scangarello was talking about Lance, and even if he was Lombardo's source, that doesn't mean he was the source for some of the other rumors. Like the strange one about "arm fitness."

We still don't know if these rumors are based on new or old comments

During Super Bowl week in February, 49ers legend and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana said he had heard that Lance wasn't ready to start. "I think they should keep Jimmy until they find somebody that helps," Montana said. "I don't think Trey is ready to play yet. As for myself and after talking to some of the players, it's one of those things that if you can keep Jimmy healthy, he plays well enough to get you here."

I thought at the time, back in February, that what Montana heard must have been a few months old, at least. I can believe those things might have been said during the preseason, or early in the regular season. I don't know that they're as likely uttered at the end of the season.

So it makes me wonder how much of the "Lance isn't ready" stuff was leaked early in his rookie season. I doubt it's new comments. And he hasn't really worked with the team since the season was over. So how would anyone have seen him recently to make a statement that he's not ready, or that his arm isn't right?

It's unlikely. So I'm assuming the negative leaks are old.

We've seen Trey Lance get better within the season

Lance looked like a rookie in his first NFL start. He made some really good plays and he made some rookie mistakes. The 49ers had a chance to win the game against the Arizona Cardinals, but Lance's teammates didn't help him out much, committing costly penalties. San Francisco lost by a touchdown.

Eleven weeks later, in a must-win game against the Houston Texans, Lance looked much improved. If he can improve that much in 11 weeks, without playing, how much can he improve over an entire offseason? And how much more can he improve once he starts playing in games each week?

Compare how Lance looked in ten quarters last season to how Alex Smith looked in his first ten quarters in 2005. Granted, the current team, coaching staff, and offensive system are much better than that trash Smith dealt with, but it's still a stark comparison. Smith looked lost. Lance looked poised.

Jim Harbaugh was able to turn Smith into a good quarterback who won a lot of games. Lance has a lot more tools than Smith. He will get better. Much better.

We've received unsolicited reviews from his teammates

We've heard from a number of 49ers players, including defensive players, about how great Lance looked in practices as the season went on. And some spoke about him without being asked to.

Fred Warner said, "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."

Jimmie Ward, after the loss in the NFC Championship Game, said, "We know he can throw a football, we know that much. He's got a lot of power in his arm. We know that he's an athlete alright ... He likes to move around in the pocket to throw the ball, extend downs, some of the stuff you see Jimmy [Garoppolo] doing from time to time, you see Patrick Mahomes doing, what Kyler Murray's doing, what Aaron Rodgers is doing. He has that inside of him and he's a competitor."

Later, on Instagram Live, Ward said, "Trey will piss you off at practice, man. The only reason Trey piss you off at practice, obviously, because he'll probably complete a pass, and then he'll look at you. And that pisses DBs off.

"But he'll piss you off because he'll move out the pocket and throw the ball. And in our head, we be thinking it's time on the clock, so if he throws the ball and it's a scramble route—we've been covering probably for six or seven, eight seconds, and then somebody will catch the ball.

"And you know you've got to get coached on that s--t, and your coach gonna tell you, 'Finish the play.' Like, the man was sacked two times."

Kyle Juszczyk told the media, "I'm excited to see what he does with this offseason. I've seen what kind of work ethic he has, I've seen what kind of drive he has, what 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 this next season. I think he's definitely going to be the type of guy that's going to step up to the plate and be ready to do that."

Trent Williams had some glowing things to say about Lance. "We can't just put the weight of the world on his shoulders, even though he is a young man that can handle it," Williams said, "We'll see what next year brings. Hopefully, he'll get a full offseason to kind of work in the right direction, know what he's working for after going through a full season. I have no doubt in my mind that he is a generational talent, and now it's just putting that talent with the work ethic and making it come together on Sundays."

Did you catch that last part from Williams? He called Lance "a generational talent."

There are plenty of others saying the 49ers love what they see in Lance

For every person speaking doom over Lance, there are others saying the opposite. Here are a few:

Jay Glazer said, "I've heard great stuff about him, honestly. I've heard they love him. They're enamored with him. He does some things in practice that make you go, 'Oh my goodness.' But he's young. I think they did the right thing."

Peter King offered some insight, saying, "My feeling is — and I feel strongly about this — my feeling is: Kyle Shanahan knows right now that he has a good quarterback. I will be surprised if Trey Lance in 2022 isn't as good or better than Jimmy Garoppolo was in 2021."

49ers beat writer, Matt Maiocco echoed those thoughts. He said, "Everything I've heard from the middle of the season on was that they feel emboldened by that pick they made, and felt like, 'Ok we're on. This is looking good.'"

If after reading my reasons for not being worried about Lance, you still have your doubts, there's always this:

Or this:

Or this:

And you wonder why I'm not worried!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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