Trey Lance: Top 4 takeaways from 49ers QB’s first NFL action vs. Chiefs

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers quarterback Trey Lance made his NFL debut against the Chiefs in Week 1 of the preseason, and there were some positives and negatives.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted there was “some good, some bad” stemming from his rookie quarterback, Trey Lance, during the Niners’ 19-16 exhibition Week 1 loss at Levi’s Stadium to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night.

Of course, the biggest focal point from the No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick’s pro debut was an 80-yard touchdown bomb he tossed to wide receiver Trent Sherfield at the 2:36 mark of the first quarter.

That alone provided the evidence San Francisco fans had been hoping for all along, and there was no shortage of reactions from across the league to Lance’s impressive throw long down the field:

Yet Lance’s final line during the game was 5-of-14 for 128 yards with four sacks taken.

True, Lance was dogged by at least four drops from his intended targets, and it’s a safe assessment to say his makeshift and ever-rotating offensive line didn’t do him too many favors against Kansas City’s pass rush.

But there were times when Lance still looked like a rookie, and that has to be counted in his performance takeaways from his NFL debut on Saturday night.

No. 4: Trey Lance can make throws Jimmy Garoppolo can’t

The quarterback Lance is ultimately trying to unseat, Jimmy Garoppolo, has never been known for having a cannon of an arm. Last year, according to Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo’s average intended air yards were at 6.2, which ranked second-lowest to only now-retired signal-caller Alex Smith (5.0).

Garoppolo has long since lived on those short- and intermediate-area throws from the line of scrimmage, or even behind it, out to no more than 20 yards down the field. And even that’s pushing the max of what Jimmy G typically does with his arm.

Lance’s arm was part of the allure that drew Shanahan and the 49ers to selecting Lance in the first place. The fact Lance has already shown the ability to launch passes off balance and well down the field is certainly enticing and should eventually give Shanahan’s offense a dimension it hasn’t had with Garoppolo under center.

That said, Lance’s debut also showed reasons why Shanahan isn’t entirely ready to swap out the rookie for Garoppolo for the Niners’ starting position this season.