San Francisco 49er second-year quarterback Trey Lance turned heads in his first preseason start against the Green Bay Packers. In less than an hour, Lance went from being a huge question mark to the next Patrick Mahomes. Lance also changed people’s impression by passing for 92 yards and a TD.
“Trey Lance has the character, and he has the athletic ability, and the quarterbacking ability to take this league by storm in a manner in which we haven’t seen since 2017 - 2018, right around the time Patrick Mahomes burst onto the scene…” — Louis Riddick
During the offseason, there were so many mixed reports about Lance’s development. One day the team was “continually underwhelmed” by Lance, then they were “pleased” a few days later.
Reports and projections for Lance were all over the map until he launched a 76-yard TD pass down the sideline against Green Bay. He only threw five passes and completed four. Sure, it was a small sample size, but it was enough for some analysts to mention him in the same breath as Mahomes.
Former NFL defensive end and ESPN analyst Chris Canty has gone even further than colleague Louis Riddick’s expectation of Lance. Canty predicts an “MVP caliber season” for Lance in his first year as a starter.
“My bold prediction for this season is that the 49ers will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. That’s how confident I am in this 49ers team and the development of Trey Lance.”
This was just one preseason game, but it was an impressive showing from Lance. Lance showed poise in the pocket and, although he only dropped back to pass five times, didn’t bail out immediately and take off running. Trey only recorded one official rush for seven yards against the Packers.
Lance brings an element to the Niners they haven’t seen since Colin Kaepernick. The ability to use his legs when plays break down is a game changer. From what we’ve seen out of Lance thus far, he’s a better thrower of the ball than Kaepernick at the same stage. Some don’t like Lance’s throwing motion, but I’ve seen much worse, and he gets the ball there and puts some touch on it.
Some of these predictions on Lance may sound overblown, but it’s not so far out of the ordinary to think he could be an MVP candidate in his first year as the man in SF. Mahomes won the MVP award in his second campaign in 2018, which also happened to be his first full year as a starter. Lamar Jackson did the same thing one year later, taking home the league’s most coveted individual award in his second year.
Everything is in place for Lance to have an incredible season for the Niners. He has an All-Pro wide receiver in Deebo Samuel, who’s happy now after getting his contract situation settled. Then there’s Brandon Aiyuk, another rising star pass catcher for Lance to sling the ball to. And you know any Shanahan-coached team (Kyle, or his father Mike) will run the ball early and often. Lance will have all he needs to come out, ball, and show the world why San Francisco traded so much to jump up and grab him in the draft.
While I’m not ready to pick Lance as my MVP winner, I see him having a stellar season under center for the 49ers. I thought had he played enough last season, he could’ve taken home rookie of the year honors. With Shanahan’s scheme on offense, the defense, and the overall physicality of this team, there isn’t any reason Lance and the Niners shouldn’t have a great year.
Anything less than 11 wins for the Niners this year would be a failure if Lance is out there and physically able to play each game. Everything’s in place. All Trey has to do is serve it up to the rest of the league.