Earlier this week, Steve Young weighed in on 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, and there’s a simple meaning behind whether or not the second-year pro is ready.
San Francisco 49ers waste no time finding something to talk about. At the very beginning of the 2022 offseason, it was how the team could end up moving quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (or if they should at all), which then segwayed into all the speculation and drama surrounding All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s standoff with the Niners amid a contract-extension dispute.
There was the NFL Draft, of course. And with all that hoopla quieting down, the focus has shifted onto second-year quarterback Trey Lance.
More specifically, whether or not he’ll explode on the scene during his first year as a starter or implode as a high-profile draft bust.
It never gets old, right?
At any rate, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young offered up his thoughts on the matter when he appeared on The Rich Eisen Show earlier this week, and not surprisingly, Lance’s future and present status came up in the conversation.
Steve Young questions notion Trey Lance ‘isn’t ready’ for 49ers
Eisen understandably prompted the conversation by asking whether or not San Francisco felt Lance was ready to go this season, clouded by the fact Garoppolo remains on the roster and could still end up being there come Week 1.
Young, however, felt it was a loaded question.
“The word ‘ready’ is just loaded,” Young responded. “It’s not right. [Lance started] two games, so ‘he’s not ready.’ It doesn’t mean anything. Who’s ready? You’ve got to go play, and you’ve got to go prove it out.”
It’s a pretty honest assessment. Lance started just two games in 2021 in light of injuries to Garoppolo, going 1-1 in that stretch yet showing some notable improvement between the two contests.
However, Young pointed out the obvious concern both the 49ers and fellow analysts likely have:
"One thing about Trey that everyone has to understand is that he has not played a lot of football in general. And a lot of things that you figure out in college over the years is just marking receivers and understanding what your arm can do. Just things that you figure out by reps and doing it over and over.When they say he’s not ready, it’s because there’s not that body of work of him being on the field. They see what’s on the field like amazing talent, an amazing arm, and all the things, but there’s so much more to quarterbacking. So when someone says he’s not ready, it’s easy to say because he hasn’t done it."
Not surprisingly, Young also said one of the more important elements for Lance’s development this season and beyond will be getting Samuel back into the fold, preferably sooner than later.
What Steve Young actually called out about Trey Lance, 49ers
The quotes are pretty straightforward, yes. It’s hard to argue with Young on that one.
Later in the appearance, though, the Hall of Famer added something worthy of note:
"What I do worry about, but it’s still early, so I don’t know and it’s kind of a feeling, is his sense of accuracy. The sense of, ‘My brain knows where to go with the ball, but my arm’s not necessarily cooperating.’ And that’s the biggest to me, Rich, as we get into the Trey Lance issues, that’s the issue that I really want to focus on this summer and as he gets into the fall, playing."
That’s a little more telling. But it reveals something of a hidden truth.
Well, muscle memory.
Lance was widely viewed as the rawest of first-round quarterbacks selected in the 2021 NFL Draft but had arguably the highest potential ceiling, should a team be willing to be patient with his development.
What Young meant with his statements is translated from this fact: Lance attempted only 318 passes in college amid only one full year as a starter, 2019, and then played just one game in 2020 before the pandemic shut down his collegiate program, North Dakota State, that season.
Without diving too deep into the mechanics, it’s important to understand Lance will have notably unpolished muscle memory. Young recognizes Lance’s likely ability to know what to do with the ball, but getting his arm and body to respond accordingly might not be there yet.
It might not be anywhere close. That’s an unknown.
And the only way for that to happen is for Lance to see more reps, ones in practice and on the field during game days.