The 49ers are about to make a transition at the most critical position in football.
San Francisco used three first-round picks to add Trey Lance with the third selection in the 2021 draft. Instead of being forced into action right away, Lance spent most of the season learning about what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.
He drew praise from teammates for the improvement he demonstrated while running the scout team throughout the year.
“I just think throughout the season, every single rep that I get, I get better. I learn so much from every rep, whether it’s just practice or a game,” Lance told reporters in early January.
In addition to getting reps on the field, Lance became familiar with the off-field responsibilities that come with playing quarterback. After not speaking with the media often early in the year, Lance became a regular in press conferences in the latter part of the season.
Lance only made two starts as a rookie, week five on the road against Arizona and week 17 in a must-win contest at Levi’s Stadium against Houston. Lance showed improvement from one game to the next, and he also showed improvement throughout each game.
Can the 49ers make it back to the playoffs with Lance at quarterback in 2022?
When you combine the experience gained from going through a playoff run and leading the team to victory in a must-win game during the second to last week of the season, the answer to that question is yes.
While the outlook is positive on Lance, don’t expect it to be a smooth ride. There will undoubtedly be some bumps in the road; that’s always the case with a young player.
What should provide confidence is how Lance dealt with those bumps during his rookie campaign. During his first extended playing time during the second half against Seattle and his two starts, the young signal-caller started out rough.
Lance’s first throw against Seattle went right into the turf. An interception ended the first series against Arizona, and it took Lance until late in the first half to get settled in against Houston.
In each case, Lance was able to figure it out. A long touchdown to Deebo Samuel pulled the 49ers to within seven against the Seahawks. Against Arizona, Lance played good enough to win. Over the final 32 minutes against Houston, Lance played very well.
One of the things that stands out when looking at the quarterback play for San Francisco in 2021 is how similar the results between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance were. For example, Garoppolo averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt while Lance averaged 8.5.
How each quarterback got to those numbers was very different. While Garoppolo often benefitted from his receiver’s ability to gain yards after the catch, Lance took more chances with throws down the field. Pushing the ball downfield is why the average per attempt was so close despite Lance having a completion percentage over 10% lower than Garoppolo.
What would realistic expectations be for Trey Lance in 2022?
As was mentioned earlier, Trey Lance averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt last season, nearly identical to the mark set by Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco’s quarterbacks combined to attempt 512 passes during the regular season.
Lance brings an element to the offense that Jimmy Garoppolo did not, the ability to run. In 2021, the rookie quarterback averaged just over six rush attempts per game and five yards per carry in his two starts.
Based on those totals, here is the projection for Trey Lance based on him starting all 17 games for San Francisco.
318-512, 4,350 yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions with 102 rushes for 510 yards.
This article has 12 Comments
256 passing yards per game seems a little high. I think the 49ers will run more than last season. Solid points though. Have a good weekend.
Thanks for reading, Otto. You have a great weekend too!
I wouldn’t be stunned if Lance misses 3-5 games due to injury. Not pleasant to consider but something to acknowledge as a possibility. So much happens through the pre-season and the first several games into the season–not all will be mocha almond fudge and pepperoni.
That is going to be rough. I think missing that many games due to injury would nearly put him in the bust category.
Jack, from your words to Lance’s arm.
Thanks for being so optimistic Jack!
Don’t you think 14 INT will also result in more losses than the 4 you predicted?
You think JG with 20-12 is a higher risk taker?
* IMO, the most important position(s) that Lance’s success, or failure, will depend on is:
A) How successful the O-Line is in 2022.
B) KS’s run first offense is a success and doesn’t need to depend on Lance’s arm, especially early in the season .
C) KS will utilize an inside zone running game that depends on the three IOL players ability to execute successfully.
D) The 9er FO trades / Cuts JG and uses the money to sign Deebo and Bosa to a new contract.
* The second most important factor in Lance and the 9ers success, will be improvements made to ST
A) Replaced ST coach Hightower with Brian Schneider! Improved field position, not fumbling punts or kick offs that give the ball back to the opponent and lose games.
* The third most important factor in Lance and the 9ers success is:
A) A healthy Kinlaw replaces DJ Jones
B) Both EDGE Drake Jackson and WR Danny Gray are a success.
* If the above happens, the 49ers will prove the “SO CALLED EXPERS WRONG and make it back to the playoffs with Lance at quarterback in 2022…….YOU CAN TAKE IT TO THE BANK!
Enjoy the ride 9er fans….LETS PLAY SOME FOOTBALL!
I absolutely love it. I think you’re being a bit optimistic so I’d take those numbers all day every day. I can’t really do predictions on stats. So many variables. Just in terms of game play I expect the season to be alot like Trey Lance’s game against the Texans where he was not good in the 1st half but really good in the 2nd half. There will be some very frustrating games followed by games that generate tremendous optimism for the following year.
QB rating by QB Chris Simms
#31 Trey Lance
One of the hardest guys to rank. I see the talent. His ridiculously strong arm and running expand this offense.
But I have questions. He’s more of a thrower than a passer. Can 49ers fix his accuracy/mechanics?
He has the potential to shoot up this list.
awesome takes as per usual, if lance hits those highs we should be in a good place at the end of next season. lets go niners
No reason for him to miss any games. He has the skill, athletic ability and, most importantly, the will to be great. He’ll be fine unless the OL gets him killed.
Meh when did we ever blame the offensive line when Jimmy G was the QB?
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