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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan explains how Trey Lance is different from other QBs he has coached

Aug 2, 2022 at 11:45 AM--

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan sat down with NFL Network's Steve Mariucci and Michael Yam ahead of Tuesday's practice. Mariucci, a former 49ers head coach, asked Shanahan about his new starting quarterback, Trey Lance.

Shanahan has worked with several quarterbacks in the past—like pocket passer Matt Ryan in Atlanta and the dynamic Robert Griffin III in Washington. Mariucci asked Shanahan where Lance fits when comparing the 22-year-old passer to those different types of guys.

"That's what I enjoyed watching him in college so much for because you were able to see both [skill sets]," Shanahan responded. "It was at a much lesser level, and it was only for a year of football, so you didn't have a ton to go off of, but you saw, the offense that they ran when he did do drop backs, you saw him play in the pocket, go through progressions, and then you saw him be unbelievable as a runner.

"So you've got to evaluate that [and ask] how would that look in the SEC? How would it look [in the NFL]? So there's a lot of things that you don't really know until you do it, so you've got to spend time with the guy and know what the person's like. We didn't get a ton of time with him because of the COVID rules that year, but what we did, every week that went by, we believed more and more in the guy.

"And when you see the skill set of what he can do in college—you have a chance as just a pure pocket pass to make it in this league a long time. You can see Tom Brady. I don't think he's ever been much of a scrambler, but he's the best of all time.

"Then you've got some people who, while they learned to play that way, if you don't have something else to rely on, you're not going to be out there very long. So it's really cool to see somebody who's got that skill set, who can get outside the pocket, who can make some plays if they're struggling to do something in the pocket or someone's not open, they can do what they've always done. But if that's all you do, I do think it's a matter of time where they'll catch up with you."

Shanahan believes Lance can continue to develop. Entering last year's draft, evaluators touted the quarterback's high ceiling, so there is much room for improvement.

"That's what I like with Trey because I've seen both [skill sets]," Shanahan continued. "I know he understands that he's got to work at both, and that's something him and I, and the rest of this team, will work through together."

Jimmy Garoppolo has been the 49ers' starting quarterback since a 2017 trade sent him from the New England Patriots to the Bay Area. But, like Ryan and Brady, Garoppolo isn't known for his athletic ability.

Shanahan notes that he doesn't believe the 49ers will look very different with Lance at the helm of the offense.

"What's changed?" Shanahan said. "There's certain things that Jimmy's going to do better than Trey, and there's certain things that Trey's going to do better than Jimmy. So whatever that is, you lean into those types of things more. What you've seen in our offense the last five years, it's what we want to run based on what we think our players do the best, and that's what you always continue to do.

"... We're going to run our offense, but having the threat of a quarterback [running] might open up some other plays that you normally wouldn't have."
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