49ers news: Steve Young offers sound advice for Trey Lance

Steve Young looks on from the Monday Night Football set (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Steve Young looks on from the Monday Night Football set (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young knows what it’s like to be a 49ers backup, and he felt his experience can benefit Niners rookie QB Trey Lance.

San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance remains the only Round 1 signal-caller selected in this year’s NFL Draft, one of five in total, not starting for his respective team.

It has to be frustrating, being such a high-profile draft selection knowing fully well the primary job right now is holding the clipboard and, at best, being mentally and physically prepared to enter a game at a moment’s notice because of an injury.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, who initially swapped out Lance with veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at points earlier this season, has abandoned that approach and has instead stuck fully with Garoppolo ever since Week 5, leaving Lance on the sidelines despite occasions where Lance’s own skill set might have been put to use.

Again, frustrating. Especially for Lance.

Quarterback controversies are always provocative anyway, and the Niners franchise is no stranger to them. Easily, the No. 1 quarterback controversy in team history fell between Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, the latter serving as Montana’s backup for years before finally getting his shot to take over as a full-time starter in 1992.

“For me, for my career, for me, those were lost years,” Young admitted on KNBR 680’s Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks Show this week (h/t 49ers Webzone). What I learned watching was amazing, but I didn’t need those years. I look at those as kind of maybe (needing) one year to kind of really get a handle on things, but those are lost years for me.”

With Garoppolo likely shown the door in 2022, opening up the opportunity for Lance, there’s a chance the No. 3 overall pick from this year’s draft won’t have to endure multiple years of waiting.

Steve Young feels Trey Lance can still prepare by being 49ers backup

It’s tough to be a backup in any sport, particularly at a position as important as a quarterback. Mentally, the preparations needed to jump in at a moment’s notice have to be thorough, only to experience the letdown of “not being needed” at that particular time.

While it’s important for Lance to absorb as much information as he possibly can, it’s also crucial he avoids the pitfalls of becoming dejected or, as some may say, “lazy” with his preparations.

Acting as if he was speaking directly to Lance, Young offered up the following advice in advance of the Niners’ upcoming Week 14 game against the Cincinnati Bengals:

"Trey, plan on starting against Cincinnati. And I mean literally it’s happening, and you’re going to prepare, and study, and memorize, and you’re going to go through the rigors of everything you need to do. Turn the TV off on Thursday, Friday, Saturday night. I’m going to go through it again, and again, and again because I’ve got to be ready to play."

You can listen to Young’s appearance on KNBR below:

In a way, Lance does have the advantage of knowing he’ll likely be “the guy” in 2022, unlike Young, who had to back up Montana, the franchise’s best quarterback ever and eventually the greatest to ever play the position at that time.

Related Story: What Trey Lance has to do to justify 49ers draft investment

San Francisco has five regular-season games left in the season and is in a good position to make the playoffs, meaning Lance still likely has to back up Garoppolo for the rest of the year-plus and into the early weeks of 2022.

The 49ers could still feasibly keep Garoppolo around next season, as he’s under contract through the new year, but that doesn’t seem probable.

Instead, Lance could take Young’s advice now and use it to his benefit immediately, helping prepare for next season.

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