Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Notebook: Trey Lance assesses first two practices; Ryans praises Lance, Nick Bosa; Richard Sherman predicts 49ers DBs will be ‘among the best’

Jul 28, 2022 at 3:13 PM--

Following the 49ers' practice session on Thursday, quarterback Trey Lance spoke publicly for the first time since June while defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans chatted with reporters about what he's seen so far from his side of the ball -- and from the quarterback his defense has been facing.

Lance spoke on a number of topics, including what he thought of his first two days of training camp as the team's starter. Ryans offered his views of Lance, as well as what he's seen from some of the key players in the secondary and on the defensive line.

Plus, there was an interesting Twitter quote Thursday from former 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who expects to see big things from his former defensive teammates this season.

Here's a run-down of all of those topics and more in the latest 49ers Notebook.

So far, so good...?

Lance drew iffy reviews for his practice showing on Thursday. 49ers beat reporter Matt Barrows tweeted that Lance completed half of his attempts on Thursday and was picked off on one of them by safety Jimmie Ward.

Still, Lance told reporters after practice that he was more pleased with Thursday's session than Wednesdays, even though he was satisfied with both.

"They've been awesome," Lance said. "Definitely had a better day today, I thought -- I mean more reps, more volume. Guys I thought were ready to go, flying around. Defenses were fast, receivers were fast. But yeah, it's been a ton of fun these last couple of days. Yesterday I thought we had a good day. Today, we turned the ball over too much. But yeah, I thought it was a good day overall."

Why did Lance feel today's session better than yesterdays if there were turnover issues? It seems he liked how the offense bounced back from those mistakes, which is what he wants to see in practice.

"We're going one day at a time, just trying to get better every single day," We know that our defense is really good. But three turnovers -- one turnover is too many. But just because we had one turnover, I thought we turned the page really well. I thought the next few reps for all of us after our turnovers, we turned it around really quick, which I think is a bigger part than not throwing picks at all."

Ryans on Lance's growth

While it sounds like Ryans' defense gave Lance a few headaches on Thursday, he's still impressed with what he's seen from the young quarterback over two practices. Ryans said Lance looks like the same type of player he did as a rookie but has grown in terms of his command of the team.

"Trey has been Trey," Ryans said. "He's a big-time playmaker. What you guys saw last training camp, he was playing at a high level in training camp last year. I think it's the same thing this year. Trey has done an excellent job these first two days. I think just his command, his leadership of that offensive huddle has been great to see. It's great to see all the guys rally around him, and I'm excited for his growth and his development as a quarterback in this league. I see him definitely ascending, and he has a lot of good ball ahead of him."

High praise from Uncle Sherm

Richard Sherman knows full well what the 49ers are capable of in the secondary this season having played with most of the parties involved during his three years with the team. 49ers fans will like what Sherman said on Thursday, predicting that this year's secondary will wind up being one of the best in the league.

Sherman wasn't the only one to pile praise on the defensive backs Thursday. Ryans dove into what he's seen from cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, saying Moseley has had a great offseason and looks the part more than he ever has.

"E-Man has continued to grow and develop," Ryans said. "He's one of the hardest working guys we've had. So all throughout the spring practices, OTAs and minicamp, throughout the summer and even now, you can see the work that E-Man has put in while we were all away. You can see that he's ready to go. He's been doing a great job taking care of his body, looks likes he's gotten bigger, added some weight, looks stronger. E-Man is in a really good spot. He's continued to show that each and every practice. From yesterday and today, he's just been consistent.

"That's all we ask of all our guys -- just continue to be as consistent as they can be. And E-Man is definitely one of those guys who is right now is at the top of his game."

Ryans was also asked about cornerback Charvarius Ward, whom the 49ers signed as a free agent in March. Ward was added with the expectation of being a starter and a leader in the secondary, and so far he's filled both of those roles to the 49ers' satisfaction.

"He's come in and done exactly everything we've asked him to do," Ryans said. "He's competitive. He competes every day. He's always challenging the guys across from him, challenging the guys in the room. So it has raised our competition level in the DB room, and I'm happy to have that. The more competition, I think the better all those guys get. So that's what Charvarius has done -- he's raised the level of competition in there, and guys know they have to step up and rise to his level."

Lance weighed in on Ward as well. He hasn't known Ward for too long but already feels he's one of the leaders on defense.

"Mooney's super talented and he knows it, man," Lance said. "The way he carries himself around the locker room, a natural leader, just a guy the guys gravitate towards for sure. On the field, obviously, you can see what he does. We have a really talented receiver group, so it's a great challenge for them."

Finally, Ryans spoke about safety Talanoa Hufanga, who appears set to start alongside Ward this season after the 49ers decided not to re-sign longtime starter Jaquiski Tartt. Hufanga has been busy learning a new role -- one of being a communicator.

"Huf is doing a great job," Ryans said. "He's being more vocal. That's what I asked of him -- be more vocal, being more in that leadership role in the safety position. We ask a lot of those guys -- we ask them to communicate a lot. So Huf, he's picking that up and he's doing a much better job of it. He's always been a playmaker and exciting guy to watch. So he's doing that and communicating, so he's heading in the right direction for us."

Bosa 'one of the best'

There aren't many superlatives left to say about defensive end Nick Bosa, but Ryans found a couple on Thursday. Despite all the new faces on the defensive line, Ryans said it's hard not to watch Bosa, who could be ready to take things up to an even higher level this season after having to worry about rehabbing a torn ACL last year.

"He's one of the best I've ever seen," Ryans said. "Just the way he works and the way he shows up and makes plays, he makes it look easy. And I know it's not easy. There's a lot of work that goes in -- day after day after day of hard work and effort that he puts in. You see the fruit of his labor. When he's away from here, you see the fruit. He shows up, he's going to be ready to go. That's one guy you don't have to be concerned with. Bosa's going to show up. He's going to be a big-time playmaker for us, one of the best D-Ends in this league. Again, I'm happy for him because he's coming in this year and he's not worried about rehabbing and injury. He's worried about getting better as a football player. Nothing to worry about except getting better as a football player, so it's exciting to see where he's going to go."

Ryans on two of the new guys

Veteran Robert Nkemdiche and rookie Drake Jackson are two of the most intriguing players on the defensive line at the moment, albeit for different reasons. Nkemdiche is a former five-star high school player and first-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals whose NFL career hasn't turned out as expected, but he's now trying to catch on with the 49ers after signing with them earlier this week. Ryans said Nkemdiche is still in adjustment mode but has shown some positives so far.

"He's figuring it out," Ryans said. "He had a really good workout for us. He's come in, he's figuring it out, like I said.. When you come into our system with our defensive line, it's a different style. It's a different technique than most guys have done in their career. So it takes time. It takes time to get used to. It takes time and you have to put in the work each and every day. So if Robert comes in and puts that work in, he'll continue to get better and be able to perfom the way we want him to perform."

Also in adjustment mode is Jackson, whom the 49ers selected with their second round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Jackson turned some heads in the spring after arriving in Santa Clara, but now things are about to pick up a notch. Ryans expects to learn more about what the 49ers have in Jackson once the team begins padded practices in the coming days.

"It's the first time that we're actually going through these team drills where these can understand how we practice," Ryans said. "So a rookie like Drake, he's coming along. He has a lot of work to put in to get where we need him to be, but he's coming along. He's doing a good job, doing everything we ask of him. So I'm happy with where he is now and I'm excited to see where he'll grow when we continue to go, when we put the pads on. That's when you can see D-Linemen truly show up -- when the pads come on."

Stop making such a big deal about it, guys

When head coach Kyle Shanahan firmly declared the 49ers as Trey Lance's team before the start of training camp on Tuesday, the headline writers and Twitter meme makers immediately got to work making the moment into a big deal. And in a way, it was -- Shanahan had never forcefully declared Lance as the quarterback of the future to the extent he did on Tuesday.

But Shanahan's words weren't exactly a surprise. And they didn't change anything about Lance, who knew this day was coming and has been preparing for over a year. So it's understandable that Shanahan's declaration didn't seem to be too special of a moment for Lance, and that he might actually prefer everyone move past the formalities.

"Honestly the only difference -- I was hoping you guys would stop asking about it all the time," Lance said. "But for me, it really wasn't a moment or anything like that. I've been excited, I've been prepared. I've been preparing to play since the day I got here, the day I got drafted, so obviously I'm really excited for this year. But nothing's really changed this whole offseason."

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