Fred Warner offered more than just advice to Trey Lance, and that's just what the rookie wanted.
Earlier in the week, the 49ers' All-Pro linebacker revealed that conversations he's had with the rookie quarterback have included encouraging Lance to take more risks in practice. Warner knew it'd help give the defense practice in coverage while also developing Lance as a passer.
Taking risks on the practice field without the repercussions of a game being on the line is a best-case scenario for a young quarterback to gain more experience. Lance appreciates the encouragement and everything that comes with it.
“Yeah, we've had that conversation a couple times,” Lance said. “Sometimes maybe more heated than others. I don't necessarily want to say heated, but I'm a competitor, Fred's obviously one of the best competitors I've ever been around.
“For him to care, not only about the look they're getting, but also my development, him kind of pulling me off to the side or maybe us shouting across the line of scrimmage, whatever it was.”
The competition has been very beneficial for the rookie’s development and confidence.
Lance, who had 169 carries for 1,100 yards in his sophomore season at North Dakota State, clearly doesn't need to practice moving the ball with his legs. Instead, he has focused on staying in the pocket and developing a rhythm with his receivers.
Testing the limits by attempting throws into tight windows isn’t what Lance wants to do regularly, but he does realize the value of having the opportunity in practice.
“It's kind of finding a happy medium between giving those guys a look, obviously, and finding a way to make myself better,” Lance said. “Not necessarily finding a happy medium, but finding a way to make myself better while giving those guys the looks.
“Even if it's throwing a ball that I necessarily don't want to throw, it's important for those guys, and obviously I can get something out of it, too. Finding a way to complete that pass.”
In preparation for Sunday’s home game against the Houston Texans, Lance took all first-team reps with veteran Jimmy Garoppolo sitting out with a Grade 3 thumb sprain. Like Lance's reps facing the first-team defense in practice, this week of team drills with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, etc., has been very valuable for the rookie's confidence and development.
“It's always good to get reps against those guys and obviously practicing with the first team this week,” Lance said. “I don't know if Jimmy's going to be able to go or not on Sunday, but for me to be able to get those reps, I think was huge. Whether I go on Sunday or not, I think I gained a lot from them.”