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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Trey Lance gets past ‘mental hump’ by studying Patrick Mahomes

May 19, 2023 at 8:49 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers, and several other teams, could have had Patrick Mahomes in 2017. Instead, the Niners opted to go in a different direction. Who knows how the franchise's fortunes might have differed had they selected the star quarterback over defensive lineman Solomon Thomas?

Mahomes has gone on the win two Super Bowls, being named the MVP in each game. Four years later, the 49ers traded a haul of draft picks to move up to select Trey Lance, who, since 2021, has started only four NFL games.

Mahomes may now be unknowingly helping the 49ers. Lance has been doing his homework on the All-Pro quarterback with the help of Jeff Christensen, the private quarterbacks coach who worked with him this offseason. Christensen used Mahomes, another of his clients, as an example of how to throw the football.

"I said, 'Watch this. Watch what he does here,'" Christensen said in a conversation with Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "It was something I was telling him to do that he wasn't quite doing. And then he saw Patrick apply it perfectly. And I think that visual buy-in, that mental buy-in, helped him past that mental hump."

Christensen added, "And to his credit, he just kept getting better. (Over) the last seven days, every day was a substantial jump."

Lance entered last season as the 49ers' starting quarterback. However, his 2022 campaign was cut short by an ankle injury in Week 2.

That wasn't his first setback, though. During Lance's rookie year, he broke his right index finger during a preseason game. That affected him through the season and into the following offseason. It changed how he delivered the football, which needed correcting once the finger was healed.

And then there was the drama surrounding Lance's arm fatigue, a hot topic last offseason. Lance reportedly needed time to rest after multiple days of throwing, something that isn't common with most pro-level quarterbacks.

That was also addressed. Christensen helped Lance retool his throwing motion to address the arm soreness that would occur after about three days of intense work, requiring a day off. The efforts have seemingly eliminated the issue. After some intense work this offseason with Christensen in Dallas, involving about 150 passes, Lance, returning to the Bay Area, was sure he would be in pain the next day.

"And I called him in 'Frisco on Saturday at noon," Christensen said. "And he thought for sure his arm would be killing him. And I said, 'OK, how's your arm?' He said, 'I cannot believe I woke up and it was not sore at all.'"

In fact, Lance has experienced "zero" arm fatigue issues since the 49ers started their offseason program in April, says Christensen. That's good news for the quarterback, who is competing with veteran Sam Darnold to start Week 1 if Brock Purdy is not recovered from his March surgery. San Francisco begins organized team activities (OTAs) next week.

Arm soreness isn't the only issue that has been corrected. Christensen told Barrows that he worked with Lance on his throwing motion, accuracy, spin on the ball, and delivery time. All have seen significant improvements.

As for Lance and Mahomes briefly working together this offseason under Christensen's supervision...

"He really fit right in," Christensen said. "Pat really thinks the world of him. He's just a really good person, conscientious. He wants to be great. And he's one of the few kids whose actions match his words. He backs it up. He shows up every day, and he wants to learn. And that's why I teach him."

Head to The Athletic to read about Barrows' entire conversation with Christensen.

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