Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ DeMeco Ryans, Jimmie Ward say Trey Lance is ‘growing as a leader’

Aug 3, 2022 at 1:09 PM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans spoke with reporters after Wednesday's practice. His unit is tasked with making sure second-year quarterback Trey Lance gets all the training camp looks necessary to prepare for the regular season.

Ryans may coach the defensive stars on the 49ers roster, but that doesn't mean he doesn't interact with Lance. The coach shared what those brief conversations are like.

"For me and my interactions with Trey, I just always try to encourage him," Ryans told the media. "I think he's been doing a great job. Anytime in passing with him, it's always just a word of encouragement to keep going because I think he is really doing a great job of really taking hold of our offense, leading those guys.

"You just see him growing as a leader. You see him getting better. I'm encouraged by that, and I just want to keep encouraging him and understand that we're all in this thing together. As a defense, I want to make sure he has short fields to work on, so make sure that our guys are playing at a relentless level, attacking the ball, to put him in short-field situations to help him out. We surround him the right way, he should be good."

Lance's locker neighbor is also impressed with the former No. 3 overall pick.

"We talk every day," safety Jimmie Ward said. "If I get him on a play, he'll come and ask me, 'Hey, what defense was that you all were playing in?' Or, 'What made you bite on this route and not go to this area?' We just chop it up like that, trying to make each other better."

Lance brings more athleticism to the position than his predecessor, which will help the offense should plays break down. As head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Tuesday, it's just one of the young quarterback's tools in his toolbox. Lance is capable of excelling as a pocket passer and improvising on the football field.

"Trey is a very smart player," Ryans said. "Even though, sometimes, our guys have been seeing these plays for a while, and sometimes they're on, and sometimes they're not on it. Everybody makes mistakes here and there. But it's just the way you see Trey creating and making plays, even though guys may be in the right spot, he's still able to move around and create plays. And that's what's encouraging to see.

"I'm excited to see him go out and actually play against someone else because he's done a great job versus us."

Lance is growing into the leadership role after learning from Jimmy Garoppolo last season. It will take time, but Ward believes his locker mate is also showing a lot of progress in that area.

"He brings the team together," Ward shared. "He hasn't broke down the team yet, but I don't feel like he has to right now. I think he'll do that when he's ready. But as in just talking to everybody, relating to everybody, I've seen him mad a little bit ... but not really. I can't really tell. He has a great poker face. But I just feel like he's being a phenomenal teammate and bringing all of us together."

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