Trey Lance goes deep; Observations from day 9 of 49er training camp

Here is what stood out from the 49ers ninth day of training camp in Santa Clara.

After practicing the last two days Saturday was a scheduled off day for Brock Purdy. As a result, Sam Darnold and Trey Lance split reps with the first and second offensive lines.

Sam Darnold

Darnold took the first reps of the day. The veteran started off hot completing his first five pass attempts, but the ball barely went past the line of scrimmage. In fact, the first throw was nothing more than a quick shovel forward to Deebo Samuel on a jet sweep. After a short completion to Brandon Aiyuk off play action, Darnold completed a screen to Christian McCaffrey which was stopped for a loss of yardage.

Facing third and twelve, Darnold finally pushed the ball down the field somewhat as he connected with Danny Gray on a curl to the right side to pick up the first down.

The next possession for Darnold nearly ended with an interception. Trying to fit the ball to rookie Brayden Willis, the tight end could not make the play. As a result, the ball caromed into the air allowing rookie linebacker Jalen Graham to nearly come away with an interception. A short completion to Ray-Ray McCloud followed.

The offense next moved into a backed-up situation, taking possession at their own five.

Darnold was given two shots with the second offensive line. On the first he found Chris Conley running a slant to the left side for a first down.

The second series for Darnold wasn’t as smooth. He opened the possession with a deep throw down the left sideline to Ray-Ray McCloud. The receiver had gotten behind the defensive back, however, the throw was short and towards the sideline. This allowed the defensive back to make up ground and knock the ball away. To plays later, facing third and eight, Darnold threw incomplete on an in breaking route to Troy Fumagalli.

Darnold opened his one possession during move the ball with a deep incompletion to Brandon Aiyuk who was running a corner route. As was the case with the deep throw to McCloud the possession before, Darnold underthrew the receiver allowing Tashaun Gipson to come across and knock the ball away. This was a situation in which Darnold needed to rip the throw to Aiyuk, who was wide open, instead of lofting it high.

The veteran quarterback finished the practice 9-13 overall.

Trey Lance

Lance’s day was the opposite of his veteran counterpart with the third-year quarterback struggling during the early going.

The first two passes from Lance, one to Tay Martin and one to Jauan Jennings were well off the mark. Lance’s next throw wasn’t any better as he overthrew Deebo Samuel who was running free down the right sideline.

Following the 0-3 start, Lance completed eight of his next ten attempts. After completing a check down to Jordan Mason, Lance found Christian McCaffrey over the middle on a choice route for a big gain. This was a beautiful ball that split two linebackers on its way to the running back.

During a backed-up situation at their own five, Lance moved the 49ers starting offense to first downs on both possessions.

Lance opened the first series with an eight yard completion to Deebo Samuel. Jordan Mason picked up the first down with a seven yard gain on the next play.

The second possession was successful despite a rough start.

On first down Lance threw low and behind Kyle Juszczyk and the pass was nearly intercepted by linebacker Curtis Robinson. Just as he did yesterday, Lance bounced back. A short strike to Deebo Samuel for six was followed by a ten yard completion to Brandon Aiyuk on a quick slant to the left side for the first down.

Lance completed practice by leading the second team offense to a touchdown in his one possession during move the ball.

A short completion from Lance to McCloud opened the drive. Ty Davis-Price followed with a pair of runs which netted 18 yards and a run by Danny Gray put the ball on the 31. From there Lance scrambled for a gain of six.

On first and ten from the 25, Lance threw deep down the left sideline to Willie Snead. The receiver was well covered but made an incredible play to come down with the ball for a touchdown. Lance did a good job of giving his receiver an opportunity to make a play, and Snead delivered.

Lance ended his day 8-13 with the touchdown throw, his second of training camp.

Brandon Allen

Allen completed six of his eight attempts on the day, including one of the best deep throws we have seen during this camp when he connected with Willie Snead down the left sideline.

The veteran backup has the best looking deep ball on the team.

Tashaun Gipson

Came away with a nice pass breakup of a deep throw from Sam Darnold to Brandon Aiyuk. The ball hung in the air and Gipson was able to get over and knock the pass away.

Drake Jackson

Jackson recorded a sack of Sam Darnold. Coverage downfield forced the quarterback to hold on to the ball, and when pressure elsewhere forced him to move Jackson was on the spot to get his hand on the quarterback.

D’Shawn Jamison

Jamison was beaten deep over the middle by Danny Gray, but he kept after the play and came away with a pass breakup when Sam Darnold underthrew the receiver.

On Monday, 49ers general manager John Lynch told us Jamison would start to see reps inside. This occurred today with the undrafted rookie free agent lining up in the slot on occasion.

Dre Greenlaw

The starting linebacker sniffed out a screen to Christian McCaffrey, dropping the running back for a loss of three.

Charvarius Ward

The cornerback got matched up with George Kittle and was able to knock away the throw over the middle from Trey Lance.

Danny Gray

The second year receiver has started to come on over the last week. Today Gray showed off his versatility when he took off around the right side on a run for a long gain.

Spencer Waege

The rookie defensive tackle has been impressive. Today he sniffed out a screen to his side and dropped Jordan Mason for a loss.

Willie Snead

The veteran wideout got open deep twice, hauling in shot from Brandon Allen and making an incredible catch on a throw from Trey Lance for a touchdown to wrap up practice.

Jalen Graham

The seventh-round draft pick has been coming on over the last few practices. Today he nearly came away with his first interception of training camp on a deflection off the hands of Brayden Willis.

This article has 41 Comments

  1. I have a feeling that the 49ers will try to stash W. Snead on the PS but this year he will be scooped up and put on some teams 53. He is just too good to be a PS player two years in a row. Has anyone heard anything regarding Darrell Luter? I think the 49ers may have the deepest 90 man roster in football. Its going to be an interesting cut down day. As opposed to all other years teams will not cut down incrementally, they will cut down from 90 to 53 on one day. I wouldn’t be surprised if as many as 10 players the 9ers had hoped to put on the PS aren’t picked up by other teams. Maybe lots of trades the days before cuts.

  2. Lance appears to always start slow and then find his groove. That is not good and it is going to be tough for him to beat out Darnold if that is the case. Back ups need to be able jump in at a moments notice and move the offense. This guy needs time to develop just hope the niners give him the chance to do it.

    1. How many backups in the NFL are capable of doing what you just described?

  3. Trey Lance’s development was stunted by a lack of much college playing time and then injuries slowed his learning curve on the pro level. That’s why Brock Purdy is so good. He had four years experience as a starter in college. And it shows. Sam Darnold was slowed by a lack of much talent on the Jets and Panthers. Now they both have a chance to get better on a talent rich 49er team loaded with playmakers.

    1. There are plenty of QBs with 4 years college starting experience who aren’t good at all. Purdy is good because he has instincts, poise, leadership, pocket awareness and mobility, accuracy, high football IQ, ability to read defenses, and he exudes confidence to his teammates. The 4 years experience he got in college helped him develop these skills further. I think you could put Lance in 10 years of college as a starter and he wouldn’t develop any of those skills. What you have with Lance is an elite athlete who is playing QB.

  4. So as I sit on my couch and play GM, here’s how I see this happening. No way can the 49ers sneak one of these guys onto the PS. They will keep 3 QBs on the roster. 2 schools of thought:

    1. Keep the best 3 QBs. Likely means you cut Allen.
    2. Keep the best QB and the 2 most cap friendly QBs.

    So let’s say Purdy is the best QB. Out of Darnold, Lance, & Allen which 2 combined give you the best cap position?

    Only hole in my thinking is Purdy is already insanely cheap. So does that mean Salary Cap doesn’t figure in the 3 QB equation?

    1. 3. Which one do you stockpile as an asset and then trade for mid rounders when other teams lose their starters?

  5. Purdy is on a 4 yr $3,737.08 mil contract. If Brock continues on the great performance path from last year, there is the high possibility that the 49ers will redo his contract before he completes his current rookie contract.

    I just don’t see the FO making any modification on Purdy’s contract in the next couple of years, which would still makes it affordable to keep Lance. If Brock was in his 3rd year, Lance would likely be gone, because the 49ers would not be able to afford his contract while resigning BP to new one.

    Darnold comes on the cheap if they decide to keep him. So, it makes sense business wise. But, we don’t know if the 49ers will go that route yet. Next weeks practices against the Raiders and preseason may very well determine how they decide.

    1. AES
      * Spotrac projects the 9ers 2024 salary cap to be ~$31.2 Mil. Bosa’s projected new contract is expected to be upwards of $30 million annually with at least $100 million guaranteed.
      * the 2024 9er team would be just $379,918 under a projected 2024 cap of $256 million, with just 37 players signed, while they’d be $10,750,082 over with 51 players signed.
      * While I suspect I’m not telling you something that you don’t already know, it does mean paying Bosa is going to leave the 9ers with little salary cap to give raises to other 9er players unless TW retires.
      * NOTE: I can’t guarantee his accuracy, but Jason Hurley (, has provided the following data on
      2023-2024 money the 9er players can make, including base salaries + incentives.'t,over%20with%2051%20players%20signed.

      1. GEEP,
        Thanks for the breakdown. The heavy contracts are TW, Deebo, Armstead and Warner. Yes, Bosa’s next contract will have a big ripple effect on the teams cap space.

        Imo, these are a couple of “if’s” that could put the team in a possible cap comfort zone.
        1. “If” the 49ers win the SB this season, TW may consider retiring on a good note.
        2. “If” Kinlaw becomes the player that the 49ers envisioned when they drafted him, perhaps they might move Armstead.

        “If” this becomes a reality, we’re looking at around 56mil off the books. Plus, if Deebo has another underachieving year, things could get very interesting.
        I know that these are just “if’s” but crazier things have happened.

        1. If the 49ers win the Superbowl and Trent Williams retires, doesn’t he lose out on $60M or $70M? If thats the case, I just can’t see anyone walking away from that kind of money for 3 seasons work.

          1. Pat,
            Good question.
            The 49ers could (another “if”) find a trade partner in 2024 for TW. In this scenario, the 49ers would only be on the hook for guaranteed monies. *I’m open to correction on this if this is wrong.

            A possible SB win, while great, could present an opportunity for potential star players currently under contract to renegotiate for a new one.
            Cap space would become more of a burden in this situation. Tough decisions would need to be made.
            I believe that TW and Armstead (the two highest contracts) could be moved to bring some cap space relief. But again, this is only an opinion, nothing more.
            Also, Deebo needs to find his groove, or he too could be moved.

            Pat, what possible moves would you like to see the 49ers make to give them cap space?

            1. I’m definitely no cap expert so I’m not the best person to ask but my opinion on this subject will be very very unpopular. If the 49ers needed to add players and had to let go of one of their higher paid players, I’d start with Deebo. He’d be my #1 player to trade. Don’t really care for how he’s handled the past few offseasons. My #2 player to trade would be Fred Warner. I’m a huge fan but his play dropped off a bit last year and he may be one of those players who falls off fast. Going back to the old Bill Walsh school of thought, better to trade away while there’s still value.

              1. Pat,
                “Going back to the old Bill Walsh school of thought, better to trade away while there’s still value.”

                Walsh made some very tough decisions, but the team remaind relevant throughout his regime for about 20 years.

                A Deebo move could be a possibility, especially if he has another sub-par season. Based on another poor season from DS, I would support such a move.
                Warner, is still a productive player and leader for the defense. I would not move him. While Bosa is the unquestioned best player on defense, I don’t believe that he has the same leadership voice as does Warner, imho.

              2. Agree about the leadership aspect for Warner. I remember Walsh trading Ronnie Lott who was also a tremendous leader. I don’t really know how much a Warner deal helps the cap. I just know Warner is paid as a top 5 LBer. Not sure MLB is a position valued to be a highly paid player. I would think DE, Shut Down CB, and pass rushing OLB might be where you want to spend more money that MLB.

              3. AES/Pat,
                I don’t think you trade Deebo if he has a down season. Two consecutive down years would likely make him nearly untradable. I would trade him if he has a season like the one he had in 2021. You would create cap space as well as get back very valuable draft picks. If the young LBs keep trending up Warner might also be a sensible trade. As to Williams leaving money on the table by retiring, I think at this point in his career his body as a opposed to his wallet will be his deciding factor. Especially with the risk of CTE. I believe that one retirement as well as those two trades could set the 9ers up cap wise for the next 5 years.

            2. Coach
              You make a good point for keeping Deebo. But, if Aiyuk becomes the clear WR1, this season, Deebo’s heavy contract could become an issue going forward. Why continue to pay Deebo #1 money , if Aiyuk overtakes him?
              That’s why I made it point thatDeebo can’t have another sub-par year.

  6. There is lots of speculation on this blog about the possibility of trading Lance or Darnold. I think it’s unlikely they trade either one this year. I think the Niners value having 2 quality backs ups more than they value a mid round pick. They are going to have lots of picks next year including their 1st round, plus with such a stacked roster it’s hard to imagine many mid to lower rd picks making the 53.
    It’s always possible that some team is willing to pay a high pick but I think very unlikely. After the season is over, that’s a whole different question.

    1. Maybe for next year but they have this year already figured out. No need to dump salary.

  7. Anything they save this year rolls over to next year. For example, if they trade Trey Lance in late August to early September they save 9 million of this years salary cap as well as 14 million on next years salary cap. Giving them a total savings of 23 million on the 2024 salary cap.

  8. AES,
    I believe a more likely scenario if the 9ers win the SB is that TW retires saving the team approx 30 mill. That along with a pretty large roll over this year by renegotiating Bosa’s contract as well as trading either Darnold or Lance will take care of a large part of the cap shortage. I think they could get away with not having to make any big time trades. One trade I could see them making is Deebo especially if Aiyuk has a big year. If Deebo can replicate 2021 I think the 9ers could get a very low 1st round pick as well as a 2nd round pick they could use the 1st rounder to replace TW. I also see them releasing a number of non starters who are either getting paid decent money or who it will take decent money to resign IE J Jennings. That is why this years UDFAs and draft picks as well as next years UDFAs and draft picks may be the most important drafts classes they have had in 20 years. I predict they will stock pile more picks in next years draft than they have in a long time

    1. I agree on your Deebo comment. Aiyuk could make DS expendable with a great year.
      I don’t think that Armstead is a dynamic player. Hargrave should help Arik this year, but imo, AA has to have very good year to lock-in 2024.

      Also, the 49ers have done an outstanding job with signing profitable UDFAs. Kudos to all regional scouts. This year players like Laborn, Jamison and Weage have a chance to make the team, with Jamison heading up the class.

      It’s a two edge benefit to have UDFA players contribute while working on a shoe-string contract.

      1. Another UDFA is McCrary-Ball. Do you think there is another team who may have as many as 4 UDFAs make their 53? As well as 5 or 6 drafted rookies. I posted earlier that I could see as many as 10 players who the 9ers would like to see on the PS get scooped by other teams.

  9. Purdy 9-17 today with another pick 6. I hope KS gives Purdy plenty of time in the scrimmages as well as Sundays game. If he continues to throw Ints they may need to take a closer look at Lance. Nothing really matters until theres an opposing team on the field.

    1. When you are Lance or Donald and trying to win a spot, you are trying not to make a mistake and make safe throws. If you are the starter, its no holds barred. You are pushing the envelope and testing your timing etc. It doesn’t matter how many interceptions he gets in camp. It’s practice. He’s getting ready for the season. Jimmy once had 5 in 1 day. For some reason you just cannot accept that Purdy is the starter, but he is – period.

      1. Felix,
        I can’t speak for Coach or anyone else, but I have commented more than a few times that Purdy is the Starter. The QB challenge is for the #2 between Lance and Darnold.
        And while I agree that Purdy is “pushing the envelope and testing his timing” it’s also reasonable to question his penchant for forcing some of his throws into tight coverage.

        This was an issue with him last year as well. There were a number of times
        that defenders muffed what could have been Int’s. This obviously, doesn’t
        disqualify Brock from being the day one starter, but the issue is that Purdy still seems to be trying to force passes causing turnovers. Today, the Int, was easily lost because he threw 3 TDs. But it will be a concern in a real game scenario. We can’t count on him throwing TDs while also throwing Int’s.

        1. AES,
          I agree with you Purdy is the starter but every coach reserves the right to change his/her mind.

        2. Okay, let me ask you the obvious question. How did his “almost interceptions” compare to other quarterbacks in the league? If you don’t know, then you have no argument. His actual interceptions were 4 in 9 games. Mahomes had 12 interceptions in 17 games.
          “We can’t count on him throwing TDs while also throwing Int’s. ” There is no we. There is only Kyle. And Kyles knows the difference between training camp and real games, which you obviously struggle with.
          Purdy had among the best stats of any QB in the league last year, now because he throws some interceptions in training camp, you think he will regress and be terrible this year?

  10. “Okay, let me ask you the obvious question. How did his “almost interceptions” compare to other quarterbacks in the league?”

    He had the good fortune of having the best defense in the league. That’s the simple comparison and answer.

    1. Oh please. You have no clue how Purdy’s almost interceptions compare around the league and what does our defense have to do with Purdy’s “almost interceptions.” You’d be better just not responding than coming up with this nonsense.

    2. AES,
      Do us all a favor and keep on responding. Your input is one of the reasons I keep coming back here. As to responding to Felix you might try my resonse to any post he aims at me.
      Chirp Chirp Thats the sound of crickets.

  11. “You’d be better just not responding than coming up with this nonsense.”

    Hahaha! And apparently, you have no clue how much int’s can hurt a team. Had those near int’s taken place, I’m pretty convinced that the best defense in the league would have bailed him out by keeping the game close. That’s a simple answer. I’m a little taken aback that I have to explain that again.

    1. You made a statement that interceptions and almost interceptions are a problem for Purdy but can’t back it up with any facts, so you change the subject. This happens whenever you try to defend coaches nonsense.

      1. Felix,
        Let’s try this one more time. Coach, said, that if Purdy continues to throw Int’s in camp, they may need to take a look at Lance.
        My take was that Purdy had possible Int’s that were muffed last season. When did I attempt to quantify facts regarding muffed Int’s?

        Here’s the pertinent point. Purdy was fortunate that those muffed or dropped potential Int’s were not caught for turnovers last season. Now, those tight throws are being caught for turnovers in camp.
        These are definitely some concerns going forward, wouldn’t you think so?

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