49ers rookie report card; Moore shows big improvement

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance runs during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The second grading period has come to a close for the 49ers’ draft picks. Unfortunately, a few of them were unable to attend, however, let’s take a look at how those that were presently performed.

Trey Lance: Grade B- (week 1 grade, B-)

Lance had a bit of uneven performance. He started the game by hitting only one of his first six attempts, with one of those misses being an interception after Mohamed Sanu was unable to hold onto a short pass over the middle. In fairness to Sanu, the pass was a bit high and had far too much tempo for the distance between the two.

Perhaps the worst play of the night for Lance came with 5:01 left in the second quarter. Facing third and five, Lance was flushed out of the pocket to his left. There appeared to be enough room for him to scramble for a first down but Lance instead held onto the ball and was sacked for a loss of three. While Lance is an exceptional athlete, he usually does not look to take off running. He did this often at North Dakota State however the NFL is much faster so his internal clock needs to catch up to the speed of the game.

After the sack, Lance was able to get locked in, hitting seven of his final nine pass attempts. Faced with less than a minute left in the first half, Lance missed his first pass before hitting on his next four as he led the offense down the field before hitting Mohamed Sanu with a five-yard touchdown throw. The touchdown was set up by a beautiful deep throw down the right sideline that hit Trent Sherfield in stride for a gain of 41 yards.

Lance’s final possession of the game was everything that 49ers fans could hope for, featuring a number of exceptional plays from the quarterback. Facing second and six, Lance finally took off on a scramble of eight yards to pick up the first down. A few plays later, Lance would roll to his left after a play fake and loft a perfect touch pass that hit Richie James in stride for a gain of 11.

The final play of the night for Lance was near perfection. Facing third and four from the 16-yard line, Lance created space over the middle by moving the inside linebacker to the left with his eyes before whipping his head back to throw a dart to Travis Benjamin in the now open space.

Lance is young and there will be some ups and downs, but what has been shown through the first two preseason games is only a small part of what Lance has done on the practice field during training camp. After the game, Kyle Shanahan would not name Jimmy Garoppolo the starter for week one at Detroit. Shanahan needs to realize that Lance will only get better the more he plays, and move forward with Lance. This is the move that is best for the team, and Shanahan has already proven that he can reach the playoffs with a rookie quarterback.

Aaron Banks: Did not play (week 1 grade, C)

Banks suffered a shoulder injury against Kansas City. He will be out for two to three weeks.

Trey Sermon: Did not play (week 1 grade, C+)

Sermon was held out with an ankle injury. It is not expected to be serious.

Ambry Thomas: Grade C (week 1 grade, B)

For the most part, Thomas played about the same as he did last week against the Chiefs, but he gave up a deep completion to second-year receiver Jalen Guyton which knocks his grade down. Thomas appeared to have good coverage on Guyton as they ran down the right sideline, but when he turned his head to locate the ball Guyton was able to pull away for an easy catch.

On the positive side, Thomas came back on the next play to make a solid tackle to hold the running back to a short gain. Every cornerback is going to get beat deep. That response from Thomas was a good sign.


San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance runs during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jaylon Moore: Grade B (week 1 grade C)

Moore took the majority of reps with the first team during practices after Trent Williams went down with knee swelling. Those additional reps appeared to pay off as Moore showed a good deal of improvement, especially with his pass protection. After giving up a sack last week, the young left tackle allowed no quarterback pressures over 33 pass blocking snaps against the Chargers

While the pass blocking improved, there were still some issues in the run game. Moore was beat a couple of times, the most egregious being a missed down block that led to running back Wayne Gallman getting crushed in the backfield just after receiving the handoff from Nate Sudfeld.

Deommodore Lenoir: Grade B+ (week 1 grade B)

Lenoir made his second start of the preseason and once again performed well, breaking up a pass over the middle on third and five to end the Chargers opening drive of the game. Through two games, Lenoir has allowed a passer rating of 0.0. His play so far is what I thought Ambry Thomas would be.

Talanoa Hufanga: Grade B (week 1 grade B-)

With Tavon Wilson being held out, the start at strong safety would go to Hufanga. He didn’t get very many opportunities in the pass game, but would knife through the Chargers’ offensive line to drop Chargers running back Joshua Kelly in the backfield for a loss of two yards. The first down stop played a big role in the defense holding Los Angeles to a field goal after getting deep into 49ers territory late in the first half.

Elijah Mitchell: Did not play

Mitchell has been out due to an abductor strain. He likely will not return to practice until after the end of the preseason.

This article has 48 Comments

  1. After watching the replays of the Lance successful plays there are at least 3-4 throws Jimmy couldn’t make in his dreams. The most impressive is TL is improving, once he gets more live game reps he could be unstoppable.

    1. Jimmy can make those throws he is just inconsistent. A big part of that is the injuries and in his inability to get into a consistent rhythm.

      My prediction is that Jimmy ends up being the starter the whole season with Lance getting playing time in mop up duties and occasional red zone packages.

        1. I like Jimmy but there is not a chance he could make those across the field, outside the numbers
          deep throws Lance made to Sherfield.

      1. While I think Jimmy has the ability to make all the necessary throws in this offense, his footwork has to be right in order to do so. The problem is he has never had good footwork and is an upper body thrower. These are great when he needs to throw short darts in the face of pressure but don’t work when he needs to drive the ball.
        If he were to correct his footwork, I think he would be a much more consistent thrower. Additionally, his “weaker” arm would suddenly become average.
        I do completely agree with you in that he also needs reps, the problem is he needs his mechanics broken down and corrected in the offseason, as that will not happen during the season.
        If I were advising him, I would focus on his reads and try to eliminate the boneheaded ints to squatting lbs or safeties.

  2. I expect Lance to take the reins at some point during the season. When? That’s anyone’s guess, but it won’t be week 1.

    Shanahan was also asked whether he felt like Lance had made the competition closer and is competing for the starting job. He said no.

    “No, I haven’t seen that,” Shanahan said. “I would love for it to be more and more each week, but I think the situation is pretty similar [to the the start of training camp] right now.”

  3. Thanks Jack. I mostly agree with your grades, so good job. I’ve have some rookie grades of my own.

    I’ll start with big kahuna – QB TREY LANCE: Trey definitely got off to a rough start, completing only 1 out of his first 5 passes, but one of those incompletions was a smart throw away. It seemed pretty obvious to me that Trey was almost certainly gripping the ball too tightly, and as a result, a couple of those bullets across the middle sailed on him, with one of them resulting in a deflected INT. Trey seemed a bit over-anxious and over-amped (adrenal gland stimulation) during his first couple series, and then I could almost feel him settle down as the game wore on. The fact that he’s pressing early doesn’t alarm me one bit, in fact, it should be expected. It’s not a secret that this a very young man who has played played very little real football over the last 18 months, and he’s likely anxious to impress early on, and to prove the 49ers didn’t make a mistake in trading away a lot of draft capitol to move to draft him. While I have no doubt that there are some aspects of quarterbacking that he needs to work through as he develops, a lot of this is probably nothing more than the experience of playing under the bright lights of the NFL for the first time. The fact that we saw real progress over the course of last nights outing, in spite of the fact that Kyle was still calling a very watered down version of his offense for the most part, was very encouraging for me.

    GRADE: All things considered, I’d give Trey Lance a solid B. This was a positive outing for Trey because he showed real growth. He overthrew a couple line drive passes early on, and he’s going to need to work on taking a little velocity of of his short throws. He also missed a couple of his reads, and there was some hesitation as he got stuck going through a couple of his progressions. But he powered through it, and finished strong, putting himself in a position to really build upon his performance. I feel more certain than ever that he’s going to be ready to help win football games sooner, rather than later!

    1. Could you provide more detail next time?

      I feel like your viewpoints are always much too brief.

      Maybe add a few more paragraphs?

      Why stop at 49 sentences?

      1. That’s very clever, “49Lines”, I get it. And I do need to work on that, so thanks.

  4. Also a reminder. Kyle has hardly used play-action this preseason. It’s something that has frustrated me, because it’s something Kyle does a lot anyways, and Trey Lance is a master of play-action. It’s something he did a ton of at ND. They ran a ton of bootlegs off of play-action, and other play-action concepts, as well as zone-reads, and Trey Lance was nearly flawless running that kind of scheme.

    From what I’ve heard, this is the kind of scheme Kyle has been calling for Trey during training camp, and from all accounts, Trey has looked tremendous doing this stuff, as one would expect. In fact, the few times Kyle has called these play for Trey during the first 2 games, Trey has looked absolutely fantastic! He is lights out throwing on the run, and like I keep saying, he moves like a big cat!

  5. Trey Lance looks like he can become great but he’s nowhere near close to that rt now. I guess you could say taking the sack was a bad play but my issue with Lance rt now is he’s an inaccurate passer. The pass to Deebo on the crossing route where the ball was way behind and bounced at the feet of the trailing defender was as bad as it gets for an NFL QB. That concerns me a bit. You can improve accuracy to a degree but at some point it’s an innate trait that some guys have and others don’t. My best guess is Jimmy starts the season. After a few lackluster performances and some Ints then Lance gets worked into the rotation. Expect Lance to be the full time starter around week 10.

    1. Week 10? I think no later the the bye week.

      I think he was simply gripping the ball too tightly and just trying to overpower a few of those passes across the middle, be we saw beautiful touch on the bootleg, play-action rollout, the pass to Sherfield, and a couple other throws. For the most part he’s been dialed in with those passes in practice, so he has the ability. I think Trey just gets a little too amped up to start these preseason games. A lot of young rookies have these kinds of issues early on, and the cure is usually as simple as gaining experience, which he’s not going to do holding a clipboard, IMO. The good news is that he looks cool as a cucumber in the pocket, which is very encouraging to me.

      I am not saying that there won’t be growing pains, because there always are with a rookie QB. But the flip side of the coin is that he’s going to improve as he gets more snaps, and I think Kyle has already proven to be the master of simplifying his offense with sacrificing much in terms of offensive production. By all accounts he’s getting better by the snap, so I say bite the bullet early in the season, and design offensive game plans that take advantage of his strengths, staying away from things like emptying out the backfield.

      1. Yeah, definitely Week 10. In the perfect world, Jimmy G starts the entire year and Lance sits the bench because the 49ers are winning games. Then Lance takes over in the offseason a la Brett Favre – Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers aren’t moving on from Jimmy because he’s a bad QB. They are moving on because he has injury issues. If he’s injured then Lance gets his shot and the discussion of “When Should” is a moot point. The 49ers definitely have a playoff roster. If they can find solid answers at interior o-line and secondary, the 49ers potentially have a Super Bowl roster. If you start Lance, you are potentially giving up home field advantage throughout the playoffs while you let Lance learn. In 2019, Jimmy led the 49ers to a 13-3 record. The 49ers scored the 2nd most points in the NFL and had the 3rd highest point differential. Jimmy had a better QBR than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott. You want to get rid of a guy with a proven record of winning when he’s on the field. You want to move on from Jimmy in favor of a guy who has led fewer NFL drives than years Jimmy G has been in the league. That makes no sense to me. I do think Lance will move into the starting lineup this year but hopefully that won’t be until later in the year. Give Lance time to learn and adjust without the pressure of being the starter.

        1. 1.6 Patriot … You bought into the idea that the Niners are only moving on from Jimmy because he can’t stay healthy?

          His inability to stay healthy is a reason, but it’s hardly the only reason. You don’t give up that much draft capital to draft a replacement if that’s the case, IMO. All you need to do is stand pat in the draft and take a Mac Jones, who’s Jimmy 2.0, or you go out and sign a veteran who you think you can remain competitive with. You don’t completely take the football out of the hand of your “franchise QB” throughout almost an entire postseason, except for when you had no choice but to ask him to make that 1 throw … which of course he couldn’t make!

          And you don’t do, or act like the ShanaLynch have over the last couple offseasons, if health is your only concern, IMO.

          Like Steve Young said:

          “My point is that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took the offseason,” Young continued, “and said to themselves, ‘What do we want to do with all these draft picks at quarterback? Well, let’s pile them all into the future because we do not want the guy we have.’ You could not have spoken more clearly or loudly.

          “So, all I’m saying is, ‘I heard you.’ And now, Trey Lance is here. And barring something unforeseen, he needs to be on that field. Jimmy has the locker room. [If] Jimmy has a great start to the season, it just gets more complicated, more difficult, because you’ve got this guy that you’ve just told everyone ‘We don’t want you, we’ve got this guy.’ You couldn’t speak any more loudly.

  6. Jack, thanks for the article.

    If someone offered the Niners a 1st round pick for Jimmy tomorrow, I think he’d be gone. Trey needs real playing time to adjust to NFL speed and work out his kinks. Our running offense — which his presence in the pocket would make more effective — defense, and the first two games against weak opponents would give him the time for this.

    1. Thank you, George.

      I think you are right on all of this. The stuff they’ve done with Lance during practices has been pretty good.

      1. Thanks George and Jack, that’s exactly the way I feel. And BTW, that’s the way both Joe Montana and Steve Young feel as well. Of course, what do they know about the quarterback position? Unfortunately, I think the window for moving Garoppolo this season is long past. Nate Sudfeld looks like a serious downgrade from Mullens and even Beathard, so they need Jimmy now. And after cutting Rosen, Jimmy has a lot of leverage now, in terms of any kind of pay cut. I just don’t understand why Nate Sudfeld is on this team. I know he’s QB Coach Rich Scangerello’s guy, but that’s another head scratching decision, IMO. I know he’s ticketed for the practice squad and scout team, but he does not look like an NFL caliber QB to me.

    2. George,
      A few months ago I would have agreed with your post regarding trading JG but after watching first Rosen and then Sudfeld I completely disagree. JG has to stay to back up Lance if and when he becomes the starter. Maybe we can trade JG before the next draft.

      1. OldCoach, you do pose a worthy counter. They’d have to sign a competent backup and I don’t know who that would be.

        1. I think OC is absolutely right on this one. KS and JL knew they had to upgrade the backup position. They did it by trading up for a rookie, but it is upgraded. Can’t let go of Jimmy G yet and have Sudfeld as the backup. An outside possibility might be if a good backup became available very soon – say a Nick Foles. But there would be little time to get him up to speed and it would be a big change if Lance got hurt and somebody like Foles came in.

  7. Same QB controversy that Grant tried to push for clicks. One would begin to wonder since this site besmirched Alex Smith and Now Jimmy G are the writers suffering from white guilt or just biggots?

    1. Sam, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s that Jimmy’s a serviceable NFL qb who’s in decline and that Trey has the traits to be elite and multifaceted and is showing he’s not that far off from starting.

      1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees what I saw.
        Week 1;
        “Trey Lance was a little all over the place,” Cosell said.
        “Overall, I thought that he was a little unsettled. He was a little quick. When the primary read was there, he was decisive. When it wasn’t there, he was a little hesitant. He hurried his mechanics, and he played a little fast when he had to come off number one.
        “I think he needs some work on his pace and touch throws. In this game, on some throws that required pace and touch, he was a little too much of a fastball pitcher.”
        week 2;
        “When a ball hits a receiver’s hand, everyone says, ‘Oh, he should catch it,’” Cosell said this week. The Rich Iron Show. “And it’s always easy to say, but when you’re clean in your pocket and a receiver is open in this league, you have to put it right in his hands. It’s the NFL quarterback.

        “In that situation, Rich, you will not ask your receiver to make a good catch. If you are clean in the pocket and the receiver is open, the ball must be put on his hands. Lance must get better“

        1. Dee, I’m not denying that. There will be bad throws and interceptions. But there are with Jimmy as well, and he’s not getting better. And he can’t improve the running game, escape, and throw long bombs.

          1. George, I find Lance very raw, combined with his inexperience at PLAYING in games in college and the NFL, I am stunned at the crowning of him as the new emperor.
            He has a lot to learn and if this team is SB-ready, why would you risk that with a rookie who still has growing pains.
            I can see KS using him to fire up the team and play him every 2nd or 3rd quarter, but to assign him as the designated starter would be the devil’s work.
            Jack mentioned that in TC every day he would start with mistakes, he has continued doing that.
            To start a QB because he can throw deep is myopic.

    2. Get out of here with that crap. Let’s keep it to football and let people voice their opinions without trying to judge their motives.

    3. just biggots? (sic)

      Are you saying Jimmy, the white man, is under the yoke of bigoted oppression, there Sam?

    4. I don’t buy that one bit.
      Trey is smart and athletically gifted to a degree which Jimmy couldn’t dream of.
      The problem for Jimmy is he also gives you a lot of boneheaded plays without the upside. He has to clean that up and he can, but the fact that this even a competition says more about Jimmy than Lance.

      That said, given that he is a rhythm passer and he hasn’t gotten many reps. I expect a rough week 1.

  8. Jack,
    I couldn’t agree with you more regarding Jaylon Moore some in the media are calling him a possible bust but I believe he will develop into an above Avg. corner. He is a little handsy but I think those habits can be broken. I like Lenior even more, I think he could be a star. One of my concerns about Lance is his lack of touch on passes over the middle. The windows over the middle are smaller in the NFL and he is making up for it by throwing some what uncatchable balls. It is especially a problem when his throws are high. If he can’t adjust and he is the starter I can see him leading the league in Int.’s Just another reason to start the year with him at QB 2. Great job with the blog it seems like readers are trickling back. Keep up the good work.

    1. Everybody thinks they are an expert when it comes to evaluating QB’s.

      I just have a hard time believing it makes sense to sit a QB on the bench for any length of time when you spend 3 firsts and a third round pick in order to draft him. The writing is on the wall for Jimmy. This is no longer his team. If they thought there was a decent chance that they could win a Super Bowl with Jimmy, they would never have traded away a fortune in draft capital to draft a young QB. They drafted Lance because they thought he was the smartest QB in the draft, and that he was one of the most physically gifted QB’s in this draft class. Jimmy can serve as Trey’s backup this season.

      1. Everybody thinks they are an expert when it comes to evaluating QB’s.

        Does that include you?
        To play someone who is not ready because you used 3 picks to get him is even stupider than using 3 picks for someone who hasn’t played…..

        1. With the Niners vaunted defense, and Trey’s positive effect on an already great rushing attack, I think he’s ready enough to start week one. Kyle’s been working on specialized schemes designed to get the most out of Trey’s current skill set, and he doesn’t need Trey to win primarily from the pocket. Kyle has already proven to be one of the best in the league at simplifying his QB’s reads, without sacrificing offensive production. He did it with RG3, and Trey Lance is a far superior as a pocket passer than RG3.

          Besides, it’s not like Jimmy doesn’t have his own limitations. There will be rookie frustrations, but Kyle’s over Jimmy G at this stage, which is why he’s been trying to find his replacement for the last couple off-seasons. And now that Jimmy has failed to really separate himself in this QB competition, I see no reason to stick with Jimmy to start the season. And make no mistake about it, Kyle’s also more than ready to turn the page at QB.

          Based on everything I’ve seen, read, and heard through training camp and the preseason, I’m not about to change my mind at this point, but I have to say that it’s definitely comforting to know that 49ERS legends – Joe Montana and Steve Young, agree with my point of view.

          It’s Trey time baby!

          1. Also, I just don’t think Trey’s going to develop sufficiently by standing on the sideline. Seems to me that the thing he needs to work on aren’t things he can correct by watching from the sideline. He needs playing time. I don’t want to take a chance on being in a situation where next season comes around, and Trey Lance still needs game experience in order to fully develop. The benefit of having Trey on his rookie contract only lasts 5 years. I don’t want to sacrifice 2 of those 5 years as “developmental” seasons for Trey Lance.

            1. To sacrifice a possible SB-run in order to give Lance some playing experience is a brilliant idea….

            2. 49,
              Sitting and watching didn’t seem to hurt the development of A. Rodgers, P. Mahomes and S. Young.

      2. How many QBs that KS picked have paid off so far?
        Garoppolo, Sudfield, Mullens, Rosen, Beathard?

  9. I can’t believe it but Jerry Jones is actually making some sense.

    JJ: “Everyone has a right to make their own decisions regarding their health and their body. I believe in that completely – until your decision as to yourself impacts negatively many others. Then the common good takes over,”

    1. Good for Jerry. He’s right on this one. Nick Bosa figured it out, so good for him as well! People who don’t understand what our lives would be like without vaccines, are ignorant, and unfortunately there’s no cure (or vaccine) for ignorance!

  10. Apparently my guy Kevin White was released by the 49ers last week. I’m disappointed. I hope things work out with the Saints.

  11. @ bruce you continue to prove you are not talented or ambitious enough to succeed possibly mentally deficient. Much like your “GUY” Kevin White.

    1. Fool, aren’t you embarrassed ? You should be. Think about this while you eat the hotpocket your mom prepares for you at lunch.

  12. Nice to see this place up and running again but it’s as crazy as ever with the opinions.

    The reasons for starting Garoppolo are obvious: Experienced, past success etc. but for some reason a lot of fans lost confidence in him beginning with the interception against Minnesota, then the overthrow in the SB and finally the uneven performance in the opening game against Arizona last year. I think that’s an emotional response instead of a common sense response. Whether you like Garoppolo or not, he took this team to a SB, and yes he had a good defense and running game but he played big in some must win games that season NO and the final game in Seattle just off the top of my head. The int against Minnesota was overblown and didn’t result in Shanahan taking the ball away from him. He threw on a couple of possessions after that and they didn’t go strictly to the run until Cousins threw a pick in the 3rd quarter to put the Niners comfortably ahead. Shanahan trusted him to throw the ball in the SB right from the start so that pretty much ends the discussion about whether he trusted him or not. The most puzzling criticism for me however is the opening game against AZ last season. He wasn’t great, threw some bad passes including the one to Kittle that got him injured, but he did more than enough to win that game and was playing with Kendrick Bourne and Dontae Pettis as his starting WR’s which many seem to forget or ignore. That game was lost because they gave up a blocked punt deep in their own end and then got stuffed on 4th down at the AZ goal line. Again not great play, typical slow starting Garoppolo but he wasn’t why they lost that game. The rest of the season was played with a high ankle sprain so I take the results with a grain of salt.

    When it comes to Trey Lance, he looks like the real deal. Great athlete, great arm, smart, hardworking loves the game. When you watch him play though he looks like a kid who hasn’t played a lot of football. We are seeing sacks and near interceptions while he’s playing against backups on defenses who haven’t game planned for him. When the talent and speed of the game go to another level with the start of the regular season I don’t see how Lance could be ready to play at a level needed for this team to contend for a SB. One season of FCS Football and glorified exhibition game in the past three years. I know he’s talented but no way he’s ready to come in and take the NFL by storm.

    I think KS is doing it the right way. Get him as many snaps as possible in the preseason, put together some plays he can run during the regular season in certain situations and don’t put him in a spot where he could fail in the regular season like starting him from day one. Garoppolo has won 75% of his starts. He’s not a bum who is going to hold them back and they haven’t treated him that way even with the addition of the rookie. They like him and likely will ride him until he gets injured which we know is a possibility, or struggles which has happened early in the season before but not to the point they’d replace him I don’t think. I’d like to see Lance get more and more confident with small increments of plays and see how he progresses. If he gets to the point where he looks like he’s ready to take off and Jimmy is spinning his wheels, start him and let him go, but there is no reason to force it from day one.

    Looking forward to a great season!

    1. FL49, most only see the flashy thing. They like the bling but forget that it’s a 4 quarter grind.
      I take dink and dunk over flashy at this point.
      When we are out of SB contention, I’ll take a Trey of Flash!

Comments are closed.