Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Packers’ Christian Watson: 49ers QB Trey Lance has “everything that it takes”

Mar 23, 2023 at 7:01 PM--

Trey Lance entered this past season as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. However, a season-ending ankle injury during Week 2 ended his 2022 campaign, opening the door for Jimmy Garoppolo and, eventually, rookie Brock Purdy.

Purdy, the last overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, showed that he could play at the pro level. The first-year passer entered the game for an injured Garoppolo, leading the 49ers to a Week 13 win over the Miami Dolphins, followed by seven consecutive victories as a starter.

Had Purdy not suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he would likely be the undisputed Week 1 starter for the 2023 season. Of course, the 49ers might also be Super Bowl champions, but that's a discussion for another day.

Instead, Lance, who has just four starts on his NFL resume, can prove he can still be the player the team expected him to be when it made him the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2021.

One of Lance's collegiate teammates is supremely confident the 49ers quarterback has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

"I've got 100 percent confidence in Trey, not just because I played with him," Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson told Rich Eisen. "But I would say because I played with him, I know the type of man he is, the type of player he is, and what he's capable of. I think that all he needs is … just the opportunity for him. He needs that experience. He needs to just go out there and be given that time to adjust to the league and what it takes.

"I think that he has everything that it takes. He just needs to go out there and show everybody."

Lance has his critics, especially on social media. The fact that the 49ers gave up a haul of draft capital to move up to acquire Lance is a big reason for that. It was a costly price for a high-ceiling but extremely inexperienced raw prospect like Lance.

When Marc Adams shared his list of the 10 worst decisions in 49ers history, critics among the fanbase were quick to question the drafting of Lance not being included.

With Purdy expected to be sidelined until September, Lance knows he has an opportunity this offseason to impress his coaches and silence his critics. The 49ers brought in veteran Sam Darnold to insulate the quarterback room should Lance falter, or Purdy's recovery be longer than expected.

During the week leading to the Super Bowl, Lance said he welcomes competition, including an eventual one with Purdy, who proved a lot as a rookie.

"Everyone saw what Brock did," Lance said. "Brock doesn't just come in and play that well, and I just get handed something out of the blue. And I don't expect that or want that, but I truly believe, yeah, I just want an opportunity to compete. That's all I wanted going into this offseason."

Watson was asked about his former quarterback's comments.

"For me, I love it. I love the competitiveness," Watson told Eisen. "For me, I think that's the mindset I'll have going in every single year, whether I'm a second-year guy, a first-year guy, or a seasoned veteran. What builds people up the most in this league is the competition and being open to that competition. Contentness isn't really going to get you anywhere in this league. If you're happy where you're at, then I personally believe you're not going anywhere.

"So I think that competitiveness is what's going to drive him and turn him into the player that I know he's capable of being."

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