Trey Lance has appeared to take some major steps forward being the orchestrator of the 49ers offense, both on and off the field. Including what he thinks about the media.
In the immediate aftermath of then-rookie San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance‘s (kind of) NFL debut in the 2021 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, I took stock from within the Niners press conference room of the No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick’s body language and interactions with those of us in attendance.
Simply put, Lance was excited but also came off as someone who was merely happy to be there.
That’s fine. He just experienced his first pro-level action against another opponent. Why not be excited and giddy?
Nearly a year later, though, San Francisco is looking for a leader, one with tough skin and someone who can command a locker room.
While I wasn’t personally on hand for Lance’s opening presser following the 49ers’ first open-to-the-media practice session from organized team activities, there’s enough juice out there to state Lance has taken another massive step in his development.
And it’s not just about what he’s doing on the field.
Trey Lance doesn’t ‘care what you guys say’
Lance fielded a question from one particular member of the media during that presser, and his answer was something you’d wish to hear:
"In the most respectful way possible, it doesn’t change how I feel about you guys as people, but it’s not my job to care what you guys say. Or anyone else on social media. For me, I care what the guys in the locker room think, what my coaching staff thinks. At the end of the day, that’s my job.You guys, unfortunately, aren’t the ones making decisions for me or really have any effect on me, again, in the most respectful way possible. But I know everyone’s got strong opinions one way or the other. Like I said, I’m going to go out and try to prove people wrong, prove myself right. But I’m doing it for the guys in the locker room."
Respectful, but stern. That’s a far cry from the opening press conference he gave following that preseason bout against the Chiefs.
You can check out Lance’s full interview below:
Every NFL player is going to receive some sort of criticism at some stage of his career. Whether it stems from the media or the fanbase, those players will hear it.
This is exponentially bigger for quarterbacks, and it’ll even loom larger for a top-five draft pick, which means Lance will be lumped into this category.
And no shortage of Twitter searches will result in question marks about his inexperience, accuracy or “arm fitness.”
Is Trey Lance starting to take over the 49ers locker room?
Quarterbacks should be leaders. That’s almost as important a part of the equation as quality on-field play.
Lance wasn’t exactly provided with that opportunity a year ago, as that role fell on then-starting signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo. But with the Niners looking to move on from Jimmy G before Week 1 kicks in, and with him also being away while rehabbing a shoulder injury, the onus will be on Lance to assume that role.
Read More: 4 ambitious goals for Trey Lance in 2022
One of the more vocal players within San Francisco’s locker room, tight end George Kittle, feels as if Lance is taking this job seriously, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch the following:
"I definitely think he’s taken ownership, for sure. You can kind of tell that in meetings, he’ll talk. He’s assuming responsibility. … He’s letting his personality show a little bit. And he’s going to be out there slinging the rock around."
Kittle, one of the 49ers’ captains, holds an important opinion here. And while he’d never hesitate to prop up his second-year quarterback at any possible moment, it’s important to continually acknowledge these comments are coming forward.
And if the Niners are going to have any elongated success with Lance under center, he’ll need to block out the critics while also taking ownership of his leadership duties.