49ers training camp Week 1 rookie recap: Trey Lance era begins

San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance #5 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance #5 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance
San Francisco 49ers, Trey Lance #5 (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

Week 1 of San Francisco 49ers training camp is in the books, and now it’s time to recap.

Today, I’ll give an overview of my in-person observations from the sideline in Santa Clara, focusing on who stood out and who has more to improve from the 2021 rookie class.

The Trey Lance era begins on the 49ers

49ers fans were waiting for this moment, but Trey Lance started training camp off with a bang by signing his fully guaranteed $34.1 million contract. Lance celebrated by getting right to work and impressing immediately.

Kyle Shanahan said Lance was the most “pro-ready” quarterback in the draft, and he proved that over the last three days. Comfortable in the pocket, but also controlled and fluid in his footwork while improvising under pressure, Lance showed no signs of being a rookie.

While not flawless, Lance showed uncanny poise and polish running the offense, and did it while consistently pushing the ball downfield. Whether in drills, 7-on-7, or 11-on-11 simulations, Lance never seemed to panic and spread the ball all over the field while Jimmy Garoppolo more regularly opted for throws within eight yards of the line of scrimmage.

The play of the day and the play of the week so far was Lance’s effortless dime that he dropped in the bucket to George Kittle over two defenders who had great coverage. Although there were hiccups on Friday, Lance showed he’s not afraid to take risks.

Most notably, I observed that even Lance’s mistakes were not throws that would result in turnovers.

Shanahan wants Lance to practice those throws early and often in training camp, and when asked about Lance’s propensity to look downfield, Shanahan said, “You don’t have to get on him too much. When he doesn’t have a good throw, he knows it as much as anyone. I just like that he keeps firing it.”

What’s evident after four practices is that Lance is as coachable as Shanahan said he was. He is taking Kyle’s advice to heart and is not afraid of making mistakes. You want your quarterbacks taking risks the first week of practice, especially as they become acclimated. Lance looked under control while pushing the ball downfield, while Jimmy showed polish when throwing the ball near the line of scrimmage.

On Saturday, Lance had his ups and downs but unveiled his ability as a running threat on several read-option plays for the first time in camp. Jimmy started practice looking locked in, but finished with two bad decisions resulting in interceptions, one of them a pick-six to Fred Warner.

It’s only four practices, but thus far, Lance has outplayed Jimmy and doesn’t look like a rookie. However, it’s important to note that while Lance has thrown to receivers like Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, he has been going against the second-team defense. Ultimately, while Kyle said there wasn’t a QB “competition,” I wouldn’t be so sure.