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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Trey Lance finally past finger injury that held him back

Rohan Chakravarthi
May 23, 2023 at 6:42 PM--


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The San Francisco 49ers concluded their second day of organized team activities(OTAs) on Tuesday, which was the first practice open to media, where quarterbacks Trey Lance, Brock Purdy, and Sam Darnold all spoke with the media following an exciting return to the practice field.

Lance took all of the first-team reps, while Darnold had all of the second-team reps, although head coach Kyle Shanahan shared that the team will likely even them out as OTAs continue along.

Following practice, Lance spoke with the media, detailing his recent rehab process and mindset heading into his third NFL season, but an emphasis was placed on the finger injury that the quarterback sustained during his rookie season that proved to be a bigger hindrance than many realized at the time.

Lance talked through the issues with his finger, as there was a change in grip due to the toughness in straightening his injured pointer finger.

"Yeah, my rookie year was a lot. It was definitely the hardest on it because I couldn't straighten it. It was my pointer finger and I couldn't straighten it after that third preseason game when it happened, but coming through my rookie year and finishing that, my goal that offseason was to get as healthy as possible," Lance said. "First and foremost, just to be able to get my finger as straight as I can and I felt like I got close to that point, but spent a lot more time rehabbing that and trying to figure that out and relearn my grip and throwing everything like that than I did versus this offseason, being able to focus on the things that I need to focus on."

However, the injury to his finger didn't only impact his grip, but rather, there was a trickledown effect that impacted the entirety of his throwing motion, which stunted his development.

Was there a trickledown effect from that where it affects other parts of your body that may not be as connected?

"Yeah, for sure, [there was a trickle-down effect affecting] anything. Wrist, hand, arm, shoulder, it all kind of connects obviously. Yeah, it bugged a lot of other things and it was hard to find a way to throw finishing off my middle finger and changing my grip and things like that."

Another significant report during his early seasons was the issues revolving Lance's arm soreness, which the third-year quarterback attributed to the throwing process he endured during his first offseason, where he was consistently throwing, creating the issues.

"Yeah, hopefully we can finally kill that [arm soreness narrative] this year," Lance said. "I thought going back to my rookie year that it was on me. I didn't do a good enough job of taking care of my body coming out of school early, started throwing, through that whole year, going into that one game, my last game in college and then didn't really stop, went all the way through the fall, through the winter, through the spring, got drafted, kept throwing through OTAs, 40 days away, wanted to be as ready as I could, kept throwing the whole 40 days away and then going through the whole season, kept throwing again, so that's just a lot of time. I don't know any quarterbacks that would spend that much time throwing, but I wanted to work and I thought that was the best way to do it, but obviously I learned a lot from that. Going through my rookie year dealing with it last year, I thought it was in a great spot as well going into it, but yeah, no issues this year."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan shared a similar sentiment to Lance, understanding that the finger injury likely attributed to the arm soreness and had a domino effect on the rest of the body.

"Everything. If it was a hip that bothered him, it would lead to everything, so your throwing motion as your whole body is connected from the ground up similar to a golf swing, so anything that gets thrown off, it can definitely adjust things and when you overcompensate it, whatever it is, watch any quarterback throughout the year that's when things start to hurt and then have to go back and recalibrate it," Shanahan said.

Shanahan believed that an additional issue with Lance's injury was the timing, as he was forced to adjust his motion midseason, which stunted growth, as the quarterback needed time in the offseason to return to previous habits.

"I think [the finger injury] impacted him a ton because he had to adjust it during the season just to be able to get through. He was healthy, but it didn't heal healthy, so he had to change how he played in the middle of the year while mainly taking scout team reps and being prepared as a number two except for a couple games. Going into the offseason having to re-correct that. I think it took him all offseason, so he worked at re-correcting that throughout the whole offseason and then he was just thrown into practice with us going into this year. That was corrected throughout last year. His grip and everything. I thought he had got that going this time with his time away. He knew what he had to focus on. He had known what he had struggled with, he had known what he had done good with. He'd gotten to see two different quarterbacks playing our offense two different ways and I just think his time away was a lot more deliberate and, in a position where he knew what he could isolate on, which I think helped him compared to last year."

There's a difference between last offseason and the current one, according to Shanahan, as Lance finally got the opportunity to work on every football element he looked to improve on, which allowed for him to further his development more, as seen with his new throwing style.

"I think when you spend four months trying to re-correct, everything's about muscle memory and how you develop things through repetition and when you throw a certain way for an entire football season, adjusting because of how a finger feels that becomes your muscle memory," Shanahan said. "It takes a while to correct that. You have to work and isolate on just that for a long time and there's a lot of other stuff you need to isolate on besides that, which allows you not to do that other stuff, so I think he spent most of his time working on a grip, trying to get it back, which is usually a prerequisite but because of his circumstances he got in that, so he was just late to working on the other things. This year, he went into this offseason knowing exactly just football-wise what he had to work on and I think that's why he is ahead of last year."

Now, at perhaps the most crucial time of Lance's career, the quarterback is finally healthy and on track with his development, which could lead to an intriguing quarterback discussion during training camp as Brock Purdy continues to heal from his injury.

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