An honest assessment of Trey Lance

There are few places as quiet as a locker room following defeat. Such was the case in the wake of the 49ers 19-10 season opening loss to Chicago on Sunday.

As members of the media entered the locker room for the first time following a regular season game since 2019, the frustration was palpable. The players who just fought through rain, wind, and mud for three hours only to come up short gathered themselves. Some packing up their belongings for the long flight back to San Francisco while others spoke to various members of the media.

One player stood alone next to his locker gathering his thoughts as he prepared for his next task. It wasn’t bad enough that his team was not successful. In a few minutes he would have to stand up take to the podium and be asked about what went wrong.

“I made too many mistakes. The defense kept us in the game. Had a big miss to Tyler Kroft in the endzone. Tried to throw a perfect ball, should have just put it right on him he was wide open. Turned the ball over. Took a sack that knocked us out of field goal range. Missed Deebo (Samuel) on third down. Missed another third down to Jauan (Jennings). Just too many mistakes. A lot of stuff to figure out for sure for me. But man, I’m excited. I still have my head up and excited to get ready to go next week.”

Trey Lance would repeat this when he stood in front of the media again on Wednesday.

Only 22, making his third NFL start, Lance demonstrated one of the reasons Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch chose to use three first round picks to make him their quarterback.

Lance very easily could have dodged the question. He could have made his response about the team or that he needed to go back to the game film to know exactly what happened.

Instead, he stood at the podium and took the blame for everything that went wrong offensively on Sunday.

That’s what leaders do.

Things haven’t been smooth for Lance since joining the 49ers.

During his rookie season, Lance sat while the team stayed with Jimmy Garoppolo as its quarterback. It took Garoppolo being injured and unable to play for Lance to get two starts.

As the result of the draft capital the 49ers used to acquire him and being the only quarterback chosen in the first round of the 2021 draft to no start the majority of games for his new team a spotlight was put on Lance. That spotlight grew hotter when the team decided to sign Garoppolo to a reduced salary to remain as Lance’s backup.

Then there is the play on the field. For whatever reason, the offense with Lance at the helm seems to be out of sync. There are big plays followed by big mistakes, and not just from the quarterback.

Against Arizona in his first start, Kyle Shanahan passed up multiple opportunities to put points on the board with field goals only to come up short on fourth down. This trend continued during the first half of Lance’s next start against Houston.

On Sunday in Chicago, a storm blew in only hours before kickoff leaving the field a mess. Despite the poor conditions, the 49ers offense had opportunities to put points on the board. Unfortunately, Lance could not take advantage due to the miscues he mentioned above, as well as a fumble by Deebo Samuel on the first offensive possession.

This has led to San Francisco managing only a 1-2 record in Lance’s first three starts with and an offense which has scored only ten points in two of those contests.

Through it all, Lance has held his head high and said all the right things.

Patience is in short supply today, as we rush to judge athletes in every sport. For Trey Lance, he is currently stuck between those who think he is going to be great and those who think he’s not going to make it. That he is the quarterback of a team many believe has the ability to reach the Super Bowl only adds to the strain of the situation.

The truth is this, right now nobody knows how this is all going to play out and what will become of Trey Lance’s career. That story will be written each week during his NFL career.

What we do know is that above all else, Trey Lance is a leader.

This article has 60 Comments

  1. Hello Mr. Hammer, I noticed your post ” being the only quarterback chosen in the first round of the 2021 draft put a spotlight on Lance “. Wasn’t he the third QB selected???
    Trevor Lawrence, Zack wilson…

  2. Jack makes sense. Lance is a gem as a person. He is a leader and such a decent human being. My only fear is that he is not noticeably better than he showed last year and we all wanted to see a major progression. It is too early to give up but the fear remains.

  3. For all of you Niners fans who think what Chris Simms is reporting means nothing, and you still think it’s healthy to have Jimmy Garoppolo in the same locker room, “backing up” Trey Lance, you guys are all about to get a much needed lesson in life!

    1. Jax.
      Can you be more clear about what lesson in life we are going to learn? I mean, lessons in life are very deep where I come from.

      1. Seriously, AES, you can’t read between the lines?

        Have you ever heard the term: QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY? Do you have any idea how destructive a true QB controversy can be, even on an otherwise talented team?

        1. Oh..for chrissakes! It’s only a football game…not advocating legal heroin use for children under 12

        2. Jax,
          I’ve heard that term many times. But, unless you recently heard it in the 49ers locker room, you are making a weak assumption.

          Chris Sims, has no valid proof of any QB controversy. He’s sounding like Mike Florio last year before the draft who said “an ex-GM told him that the 49ers were going to draft Justin Fields.”

          These (media) guys are a dime a dozen. Go ahead and believe them if you will.

  4. Fickle fans is a normal condition in sports.
    We overreact on wins and overreact on losses.
    It is, what it is.
    But for those who are throwing darts at Lance after one loss in a monsoon is completely off the reservation.

    For the 49ers, last Sundays game was one in which the team looked out of sync and could never find its rhythm.
    The entire team has to take responsibility for this loss. Losing our #1 RB didn’t help as well.
    Putting it solely on Trey is ridiculous and makes the finger pointers look silly and impatient.
    C’mon Faithful, it’s not a good look to whine after just one game.

  5. I’m not qualified to judge how good or bad Lance will be in the future but I’m pretty sure he will get better as he gets more reps. I think it is crazy for people to be making outlandish predictions and loose their cool over one game by a guy making only his 3rd start. The good news is that he probably doesn’t pay attention to all the crazy stuff on social media or any media. He appears to have all the qualities that make a good quarterback except for age and experience. I think time is on his side.

    1. Felix.
      “The good news is that he probably doesn’t pay attention to all the crazy stuff on social media or any media. He appears to have all the qualities that make a good quarterback except for age and experience. I think time is on his side.”

      Thank you!

      1. It’s not “all the crazy stuff on social media, or any media” that Trey needs to worry about. It’s his teammate who wears #10 in the locker room, and all of his other teammates, especially the veteran leadership council, who have a long history of success with #10.

        1. Ridiculous. The only thing Trey has to worry about is his own performance. If he plays adequately then he has nothing to worry about. It’s all up to him.

          1. Nonsense! Kyle Shanahan will not subject himself to mutiny within the 49ers locker room.

            9/15) Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post is reporting that he is hearing from internal sources if the Niners lose their home opener VS the Seahawks: “This team thinks it has Super Bowl potential, and the internal hope was that games against the rebuilding Bears and Seahawks might help provide a soft opening,” La Canfora writes. “Gulp. If the 49ers open 0-2, people who have worked with and for Kyle Shanahan anticipate that Garoppolo will be starting by Week 3′s Sunday night meeting with a strong Broncos defense.”

            And wouldn’t that be a shame? Now to be fair, I don’t know just how quickly Kyle will pull the plug on the poor kid, because if we are being honest Trey hasn’t really been given a fair or proper opportunity to develop, but it’s unquestionably likely to happen much sooner than it ever should have, now that Jimmy G is waiting to pounce just as soon as the 49ers start losing any significant ground in the NFC West!

            1. In other words, team chemistry within the 49ers locker room is now a ticking timb bomb!

              Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock!

              1. Come on man it’s week 1… It’s still basically preseason…. Talk about the locker room at around week 5

            2. “9/15) Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post is reporting that he is hearing from internal sources…”

              Until Sims, LaConfora and Florio can grow a pair and verify their sources, they are just blowing in the wind.
              “Sources” are for (media) cowards that feel the need to be relevant.

  6. Cowherd/Manning regarding Trey: Give him reps. Let him learn how fast line backers and safeties are. Manning reminds us that he got picked 28 times his rookie season and it helped him lead team to 13 wins in subsequent season.

    The passes to Aiyuk , Jennings and RayRay are a good indication of what he is capable of with a stable pocket. Shanahan needs to dial back the designed runs. We cant have Lance barrelling into LBs head first. Game plan around the threat of Lance running.

    1. The only thing he was good for was snapping that foot and eventually giving way to Brock Purdy.

      Trey Lance is a super bust. Likely the biggest bust + dumbest draft pick ever. Fields and Jones are gamers. Could have taken literally ANY other player with that pick and been good.

  7. Rollo,
    Are you saying that the 9ers/Lance will lose this year but will win next year? How long do you think this teams SB window will stay open?

    1. Coach , not at all. I am agreeing with Manning that the more Lance plays the better he will get. He is yet to play with Kittle , Deebo and Aiyuk. This current SB window is open for 2 -3 years .

  8. Jack,
    I can’t argue with your point that as a coach or teammate it is much better to surround yourself with quality people than POS’s but there have been plenty of POS’s who have won SB’s and plenty of quality people who were terrible at the NFL level. So TL is a quality young man who you would be happy to have your daughter marry but he hasn’t proven to me (yet) that I want him leading my team.

  9. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is filled with QB’s that sucked not just after their first three starts, but a decent number of them weren’t even all that good after three seasons. Go look at how bad Terry Bradshaw’s early career was. Nobody has the patience to let a QB develop anymore. The 49ers spent a ton to get Lance and now after 3 starts half the fan base wants to go back to Jimmy “Worst 4th Quarter Playoff QB in History” Garappolo. I have no idea if Lance was the right choice, but give the guy a chance people.

  10. Let’s get one thing straight: When you make up your mind that it’s imperative to make such a breathtakingly aggressive move in the NFL draft, to move up for a new QB, there’s no going back without the kind of career defining embarrassment, and subsequent mockery that would follow such a world-class flip-flop! Make no mistake about it – Kyle Shanahan’s reputation is now hitched to the wagon of Trey Lance’s development, and whatever the future holds for the young man.

    I’m certainly not someone who believes W’s & L’s are quarterback statistic. And while I do believe that Jimmy Garoppolo is often “adequate” as an NFL QB, I also believe that there is a darn good reason that Kyle Shanahan has been trying to find his replacement ever since his 2nd injury riddled season of 2020. You don’t spend THREE 1st round picks on a young QB prospect as an insurance policy for an injury prone starter. You spend that kind of draft capitol on a replacement, because you feel like you absolutely have to in order to move the franchise forward and win a Super Bowl. That’s just a fact, and frankly, it’s something that isn’t even up for debate.

    But what I don’t understand is why Kyle would make such a desperate draft move, and then not doing everything in his power to make it as easy as possible for his new franchise QB to succeed. Instead, Kyle is trying to do the impossible! He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too, at the QB position! I don’t know if it’s arrogance, ignorance, or a combination of of the two, but what I do know is that what he’s desperately attempting to do this season by threading the needle with two different QB’s, will never work! And the fact is …. this plan was doomed from the start!

    1. It won’t be doomed when Lance goes down with an injury. Great move by Lynch to keep a winning QB in reserve rather than let him go for nothing.

  11. Now lets do an honest assessment of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch’s draft skills. In the draft where the 49ers selected Solomon Thomas at #3, the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes at #10. In the draft that the 49ers selected Aaron Banks at #48, the Chiefs selected Creed Humphrey at #63. I’m beginning to think Kyle Shanahan has all of the offensive genius of Bill Walsh without any of the eye for talent of Bill Walsh.

    1. This is really one of the dumbest posts I’ve seen. When they took over, the Niners were recognized as having the worst roster in the NFL. 2 years latter, they play in the Super Bowl and last year they barely missed playing in the SB. How does a team do that without having an eye for talent?
      The draft is a crap shoot for all teams. Probably only about 50% of picks meet expectations. If I wanted to waste time, I could list picks to show how bad KC is at draft picks. Boy, speaking of not seeing the forest thru the trees.

      1. Even by your own logic, the 49ers could stumble into a 50% hit rate on their draft picks regardless of how bad they are at drafting. Under Shanahan the 49ers have signed Brian Hoyer, CJ Beathard, Nick Mullens, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nate Sudfeld, Trey Lance, and Brock Purdy. During that time guys like Patrick Mahomes, and Justin Hebert have been drafted. Mahomes was drafted while KC had Alex Smith on their roster. Obviously, the jury is still out on Lance but ShanaLynch DO NOT have a good track record when it comes to identifying talent at the most important position on the field – QB. And then just look at this iOL. It’s an absolute farce to have Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, and Spencer Burford as your starting iOL. I’m ahead of you on this opinion but you will come to this same conclusion some time this year.

        I used to also give ShanaLynch the benefit of every doubt when it comes to the roster. Shanahan is obviously a great coach. Lynch is obviously a strong organizational leader. Neither are good at selecting QBs or at putting a roster together to protect that QB. Banks, Brendel, Burford – the Spiller B’s.

          1. I don’t have to double down on anything. Simply stating the obvious that anyone who knows anything about football can easily see. Passing on Mahomes was a mistake. Passing on Humphreys was a mistake.
            Putting Trey Lance behind Banks, Brendel, Burford is a mistake. The 49ers have a great roster at many position groups. You can’t count QB or O-Line as great position groups yet. Missing in drafts at those 2 position groups is a big problem.

            1. If Kyle didn’t have such a glaring blind spot at QB, this current core roster of the 49ers would have won a Super Bowl by now. Outside of this one position (QB), ShanaLynch have really done a terrific job at building out this roster, and in fact they’ve done as good of a job as any team when it comes to building a Super Bowl caliber roster.

              It’s really unfortunate then, that Kyle can’t seem to figure out the QB position, because we all know that the QB position is by far the most important position on any NFL roster. And I hate to keep going back to 2017, but if only Kyle had bothered to scout the 2017 QB draft class, instead of taking a 4th round flier on a QB who probably never should have even been drafted (Beathard), the 49ers would probably be the class of the NFL these days.

              Can Trey Lance be that guy? Maybe, but you’d have to reckon that Jimmy would have been long gone by now, if Kyle had any confidence in the kid, and/or if Kyle had confidence in his own convictions.

              1. And I agree with 1.6 when it comes to trying to develop Trey Lance behind this sub-par interior OL. That seems to be yet another major oversight by Kyle, when it comes to this glaring blind spot of his – the QB position!

            2. I’m still waiting for an explanation on Kyle isn’t a good talent evaluator but is able to build a top roster.

  12. Felix,
    I believe when it comes to the latter rounds of the draft and UDFA’s that KS, JL and the rest of the scouting dept are the best in the NFL. When it comes to the 1st 3 rounds (where the best talent is available) they are very weak. Just look at some of the players they have missed on in the 1at 3 rounds.
    Banks (a maybe at best)
    Thomas CB
    Thomas DL
    Wow if you could just replace half of those players with talent what kind of roster would this be? Top 10 all time

    1. I could do the same analysis for every team and come up with mostly worse results. You can’t compare draft results to some fantasy in your head. You have to compare it to the rest of the league. By any reasonable standard, their draft results are top 10 at least.

      1. Felix,
        I agree with you. Over the last 5 years drafting and UDFA’s the 49ers are top 10. My point is that the majority of their success is Rd’s 4-7 and UFDA’s. If they were as good at the top 3 Rd’s they would be top 5 possibly #1

        1. Coach/Felix,
          Drafting high doesn’t always guarantee winning. There are bottom-feeder teams that draft high big name players year after year and perennially miss the playoffs.

          I would rather judge a team by it’s winning percentage and the 49ers have done very well in that category.
          Some fans here have a short memory. In the last 6 years we’ve gone from “dumpster fire” to a “Superbowl ready” team.
          All the Lynch/Shanahan finger-pointers can’t change that.

  13. Uhmmmm, Jack.
    Do we now want someone that admits his mistakes on the field every week and loses?
    Are those the standards for a leader we want?
    Or do we want a leader that wins every week?

    1. There is a difference between leadership skills and QB skills. Trey showed leadership skills in the press conference. Yes we do want that in a QB. That should be obvious.

      1. Leadership skills in the press conference would definitely be my top priority too!
        We’re going to need that this season….

  14. Jack,
    Nice work. We can only hope Trey Lance becomes the QB that takes this team to a SB victory.
    Professional sports is just entertainment.
    As a fan I want the 49ers to be great. This is my 70 year watching and supporting the 49ers. My family were season ticket holders for 51 years. I saw my first game in 1953 at Kezar, the Lions beat the 9ers 14 to 10.
    I am not a football expert ,I am just a fan.
    What I have learned is it is super difficult for any team to get to and win the champion ship. If at times I sound impatient , it is because the opportunities to win are needed to be acted upon now not later.
    I try to be respectful in my comments and look forward to hopefully one day just sitting around with all of you enjoying our mutual interest in the 9ers .
    Go 9ers.

    1. Hacksaw,
      My Dad’s family had season tickets starting in 1946. We sat on the 9ers side line about the 45 yard line 7 or 8 rows back at Kezar. I think my first game was in the late 50’s I can’t remember the exact game. Those were the days. Were you a Tittle man or a Brodie man?

      1. OC,
        Tittle all the way. Brodie was the new shinny object on the scene . He had the big arm, could throw the the ball all over the yard.
        Title was old school, he was an all pro, he was tough and he won a ton of games. But as we all know if you do not win a championship in SF you are gone. He was the first Hall of fame QB that SF traded away, Montana being the secound Hall of Fame QB to be traded !
        He went on to win three divisonal championships with the Giants. Needless to say no championships with Brodie. But he could throw for lot of yards.
        We had to wait for Bill Walsh to finally get those Championships…

    2. Wow! 70 years! You are a legend sir!
      I wish the 49er gives you many many more SB victories!🙏🙏🙏

  15. I passed by the old Kezar many years ago and was floored to see how much it had shrunk.
    Hard to believe that during it’s hey-day it held over 60k people.
    My, how the times have changed.

  16. I’ll give you guys on this blog credit for one thing: It seem that we all agree that Jimmy Garoppolo is not the answer at QB? Obviously, we don’t yet know exactly where Trey’s ceiling is, but I will say …. I do find the fact that the general consensus on this blog, seems to be that Jimmy Garoppolo is obviously not the answer at QB, to be somewhat encouraging.

    Maybe there is hope to avoid a QB controversy this season, even if Trey struggles early as he develops?

    We’ll see.

  17. Kittle practiced today. Hopefully he plays. At this point I don’t care if he plays half injured, it’s better than nothing. And with Kittle he’s effective as long as he’s in there.

    I just hope we find some solutions in terms of run/pass blocking so Kittle’s receiving talent isn’t wasted in the trenches all season. Back in the day he used to be the ONLY downfield threat on this team. Simply can’t waste game breaking ability like he has.

  18. I’m scratching my head at the (4 year!) extension for Mitch Wishnowsky. This guy has been nothing but consistent- consistently average. Not awful, not good. Average.

    Can someone explain why we need to sign this guy for 4 years? Terms were not released but I’m hoping the organization can dump him with little dead money if they need to, because there didn’t seem to be any real suitors out there for a guy who is average all year and the same or slightly below average in the post season.

  19. I’ve never read such worthless drivel in my life, this entire article is absolutely ridiculous.

    Please show me the camera footage of any QB blaming his teammates for a loss or asking to see more film its never happened. Ever. You’re completely making it up.

    This worthless scribe is trying to prop up a horrible QB and justify 3 first Rd picks for a QB that never should have been in the NFL never mind worth the haul paid.

    Lance Did the only thing he could do, except the blame, because he was horrible he did make to many mistakes he’s the reason this team will never win.

    This wasn’t a QB with an offensive line that can’t block or WR/TEs that can’t catch or RBs that can’t catch and run THIS OFFENSE IS SUPER BOWL QUALITY ACCEPT FOR TREY LANCE. That’s why this team will never win. They mortgaged the future for a horrible QB that should still be in college, not running a SB quality offense.

    Trey lance will easily go down as the biggest draft bust in NFL History. You don’t trade 3 first Rd picks for a player that can take the blame for his horrible play.

  20. Thanks for posting this again Jack. Took me a minute to comprehend when this was written. I really hope that Trey is the guy.

    My common sense tells me he won’t. It’s been 2 full years and all he has proven is that he is susceptible to injury. I think the mountain might just be too far to climb. I never liked the pick because it didn’t make sense for the 49ers.

    They picked a player with the least experience against high level competition and the least amount of overall experience to play on a team with the highest expectations. That equation does not make any sense.

    I never liked Lance in the Shanahan system. Jones would have been on a trajectory towards Kurt Cousins/Tony Romo/Rich Gannon type QB. At this point all Lance has is his athleticism. Next year I hope to see a spread offense with lots of 3 WR sets. Lance will be much more effective as a runner in that scheme as well.

  21. Remember the years of Alex Smith. Drafted in 2005. I followed this guy from day 1. His first several years were awful. He was benched for QB’s that were out of the league a decade before he left. JT O’Sullivan. The Ohio State kid, Troy Smith. None of these guys lasted. When they finally got the right coach, and the right players around him, he ended up being pretty good for several years, and then went on to have a very good career in KC. Trey Lance is entering a situation that is infinitely better than what Alex Smith entered in 2005. He will be successful if people are willing to be patient. Some of the best QB’s of all time, did not see the field in their first few years. Patrick Mahommes, Aaron Rogers.

    1. Uh, the lesson was obviously that Trey Lance was a joke pick .Garoppolo and Purdy are each pro bowlers compared to this bust.

      Cutting Lance is the only thing to do. He’s trash as an NFL qb.

      Everytime Purdy throws a dime or makes a big play you can see the worry and shame pour off of Trey Lance on the sideline.

      Cut the fat and move forward.

  22. The blog is really interesting. with many interesting and outstanding articles. Thanks for sharing such impressive articles. Continue to update!

  23. Is it true that Lance underwent a second surgery on his ankle? That doesn’t sound like a good start to the new year!

Comments are closed.