After months of speculation during the offseason about the state of San Francisco’s quarterback room, head coach Kyle Shanahan went on record Tuesday to reaffirm what the 49ers organization has been saying all offseason about who’ll be under center come Week 1: “We have moved on to Trey”.
So with that affirmation clear to all, the 49ers opened training camp this week with Trey Lance as the starter. Speaking to the media Thursday, the 22-year-old said he already feels better than he did in his first camp. Having a year under his belt has made his approach totally different, and allowed Lance to explore more detailed aspects of the game.
“Mentally’s the biggest thing. I’m … light-years ahead of where I was last year,” Lance said told the NFL Network’s Kurt Warner on Inside Training Camp Live. “Last year … I knew what was going on, but this year I could actually pay attention a lot more to defense, pay attention to fronts, defensive structures and all that. able to kind of know what’s going on.”
The opportunity to take all of your reps in practice with the other starters can’t be overstated, and Lance said this is definitely something he felt last season, as well. While he spent most of the season playing behind Jimmy Garoppolo, he said the practices in the lead-up to his two starts helped him grow as a player significantly more than when he was preparing as a back-up.
“Every play was something new. I learned so much, not only in the games, but the practices, the walk-throughs, everything that goes on as a starter versus backing up Jimmy last year,” Lance told Warner. “Those weeks were completely different, and I grew a lot in those weeks of practice.”
With Lance adjusting to his new role, the only question remaining for the 49ers is how things will shake out for Garoppolo. The veteran QB is still healing from offseason shoulder surgery, but it is all but assured that as soon as he’s fully cleared he’ll be on his way to another team, officially paying the changing of the guard at quarterback.
Lance said he’s run into Garoppolo in the training facility a few times this offseason, and that despite the two competing for the same spot last year, he said they’re still on great terms, and he hopes for the best for his teammate.
“It is what is. It’s nothing weird at all. I never had anything I could possibly say that’s bad about Jimmy,” Lance told reporters at a Thursday news conference. “He’s been a big bro to me since the day I came in. He could have made things hell for me.”
Though Lance has had to weather months of speculation and changes to get to this point, he said one thing that hasn’t changed is his mindset. With the start of the season weeks away, the young quarterback is excited to finally see his work come to fruition, and prove he’s worth the starting role he’s earned.
“I’ve been preparing to play since the day that I was drafted,” Lance told Warner. “So nothing really changed. There wasn’t really a moment or anything like that, but I’m excited to lead these guys and get this thing going.”