Why Trey Lance takes biggest leap of all second-year quarterbacks

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Trey Lance showed signs of being great his rookie season but still has a lot to prove. Not unlike the remainder of second-year quarterbacks with a lot to show.

Quarterbacks selected in Round 1 of any NFL Draft always have a lot of pressure put upon their shoulders.

Any casual San Francisco 49ers fan can attest to this, as looking at any elongated discussion about Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall selection from the 2021 draft, prompts all sorts of question marks about whether or not the Niners made the right move aggressively trading up for the rights to draft him.

It’s OK to be a gunshy rookie, either sitting on the bench behind a veteran as Lance did for the bulk of his rookie year while quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo started all but two games. It’s also OK for a rookie to struggle after being thrust into a situation on a bad team, such as the New York Jets experienced with the No. 2 overall pick, Zach Wilson.

However, any quarterback is expected to make a massive leap in year two of his pro career.

So, that prompts the question: Will Lance make the greatest of leaps of all those now poised-to-start second-year quarterbacks?

Trey Lance and the other 2021 rookie now-starting quarterbacks

Five quarterbacks were selected in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, although there are currently six second-year signal-callers poised to start in 2022.

To recap:

  1. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 1 overall)
  2. Zach Wilson, New York Jets (No. 2 overall)
  3. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (No. 3 overall)
  4. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (No. 11 overall)
  5. Mac Jones, New England Patriots (No. 15 overall)
  6. Davis Mills, Houston Texans (No. 67 overall)

Lawrence and Fields were effectively shoved into starting roles right away, while Jones solidified the job in training camp, pushing out veteran quarterback Cam Newton in the process.

Both Fields and Mills had to beat out journeymen veterans, the former knocking off Andy Dalton, while the latter unseated Tyrod Taylor.

Lance, meanwhile, got into two starts as a rookie, going 1-1 in those games and showing substantial improvements between the two starts, although it’s important to note how small of a sample size it is.

Before we look at the individual traits of each quarterback, let’s explore the contexts surrounding each of them.