Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch: Trey Lance ‘really just asserted himself’ this offseason, seizing 49ers’ starting job

Aug 7, 2022 at 9:03 AM--

Trey Lance spent last season as the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, sitting and learning behind veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. However, things are different this year. Lance has taken the reins from Garoppolo as the team's starting quarterback. While there was media speculation that Garoppolo might eventually work his way into a quarterback competition, for the 49ers, Lance has been the guy for a while now.

"We got into the offseason, and the thought really was this is going to become Trey's team," general manager John Lynch recently told The Athletic. "We go through OTAs and all of that, and he really just asserted himself. Those decisions are Kyle's. We obviously talked a lot about it. It was somewhere in there in OTAs when we just felt very comfortable (naming Lance the starter). It was, all right, let's do this."

Lance had work to do, though. He spent all of last season dealing with a finger injury. It was so persistent that it forced the quarterback to change his throwing motion to compensate because he could not correctly grip the football. That caused "undue stress on his arm," per Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

That certainly explains the offseason reports of "arm fatigue." While the reports pointed back to what was seen last season, some ran with it, making it sound like the issue remains. Nothing from this offseason has indicated that to be true.

"When you start changing the way you throw to compensate for a lack of grip, your arm takes a beating," throwing coach Adam Dedeaux of 3DQB, who worked with Lance this offseason, told The Athletic. "There were elements of that for him last year. Not only was he dealing with the (finger) injury, but his arm would get sorer than normal having to essentially manipulate the way he throws so he could be more efficient."

The work to correct Lance's grip started as soon as his finger was healthy.

"We started back at the end of March, after taking a little bit of time away after the season," Lance explained this week. "Went to gripping a football again. ... I learned to throw and finish off my middle finger versus my pointer finger. Kind of just reteaching that, and it didn't take near as long as I thought. ... By the time I got back to OTA, Phase 1, I wasn't even thinking about it anymore."

Lance has endured the majority of the quarterback workload this offseason, enjoying ups and downs during training camp—just as any young inexperienced quarterback might. For Lance, it's a much different experience, mentally, compared to his situation a year ago.

"I'm in a whole other place," Lance admitted. "I can't even imagine going back to last year. But yeah, everything has definitely slowed down."

The 49ers have been happy with their decision. This is Lance's team now. The good news is that the roster is talented enough to carry the young quarterback through any growing pains he might undergo in his first season as a full-time starter.

"He is everything we thought he was and a little bit more," Lynch said. "Quarterbacks in this league who are playing for the first time, they go through their struggles, too, so we're fully aware that those are going to come. But we believe enough in his makeup, what he brings to the table in terms of abilities, but also just his mental makeup, who are you as a person, how are you going to work through adversity. We believe in Trey and all those things."

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