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49ers insider offers analysis from glimpse of Trey Lance and Sam Darnold

May 25, 2023 at 10:05 AM

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It's premature to draw conclusions about a quarterback based on practices in May. That is especially true when you do so based on one practice. The San Francisco 49ers started organized team activities (OTAs) this week, and all eyes were on Trey Lance and Sam Darnold.

The two players are battling for that QB2 job behind last season's rookie sensation, Brock Purdy. One could even start Week 1 if Purdy is not healthy enough to do so himself.

Lance is coming off a season-ending ankle injury but looks completely healthy now. Darnold is trying to turn his career around after never living up to his high draft status.

Matt Barrows of The Athletic was on hand for Tuesday's practice, the only one open to reporters so far, and one that Barrows describes as a "glorified walk-through." What insights did the 49ers insider gather from his brief glimpses of the two quarterbacks?

"The big thing that everybody was scrutinizing was Trey Lance and Trey Lance's throwing motion," Barrows shared on 95.7 The Game's The Morning Roast. "And to me, and I don't want to come off as someone who thinks that he's an expert on this, but it did appear as if it was more fluid. I thought the ball was coming out of his hand faster.

"He wasn't overly aggressive with his throws, downfield throws. There was a lot of checkdown stuff. But even those types of throws—certainly in the Chicago game (last season), and I realized that was sort of uncommon circumstances—but a lot of times, the easier the throw, the more difficult it looked.

"And so he was hitting that short stuff, short passes to the tight ends and the running backs, really well. So I would say that very early, very [much] just a glimpse of the Tray Lance of the 2023 offseason, but it was a good start."

The reporter had a similar analysis of Darnold, who joined the 49ers in March via free agency. With 55 starts on his resume, Darnold is the most experienced of the 49ers quarterbacks but is still only 25 years old.

"I mean, they literally had the same stats," Barrows shared. "This is how pathetic I've become. I chart quarterback stats in May when they're just working on seven-on-seven stuff. Paying attention to the numbers, they were both 11 of 15 on those, so identical.

"I thought Darnold was actually a little bit more aggressive through some more downfield stuff. His receivers bailed him out of a couple of tough throws. There were a couple of really nice catches on his passes, but he looked fine. Extremely strong arm with Sam Darnold."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Barrows below.

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