Fred Warner and George Kittle are on the same page about a lot of things including, Trey Lance’s improvement during 49ers practice.
Lance could be called upon for his second career NFL start on Sunday against the Houston Texans if starter Jimmy Garoppolo in unable to play due to a Grade 3 sprain of his right thumb.
Kittle, who hadn’t spent a lot of time watching Lance on the scout team, has now had two straight practices with Lance and gave a positive review.
“I think Trey has looked good,” Kittle said. “The last couple of months I think there has been huge improvement. Whatever you guys saw in camp, I think he has been way better than that. He looks more mature in the pocket.”
Kittle is in agreement with Warner that Lance has gotten away from his conservative style of play seen earlier in the season. The rookie has been letting it rip in practice and the tight end has seen a marked improvement in the quarterback’s pocket presence.
“[He is] not relying on his legs to make plays,” Kittle said of Lance. “He is sitting in the pocket and he is reading it a little bit more and he is taking a little bit more chances in the pocket. He kind of shifts in the pocket and he is still able to deliver a ball.
“That’s what you want to see. He has definitely improved in the last several weeks.”
As far as a leadership role, Lance has been naturally building relationships with his teammates. Kittle believes those qualities will develop naturally and Lance, as a rookie, is being respectful of Garoppolo’s veteran status.
Kittle said that thus far, Lance has tended to lead by example as opposed to being vocal, but added that the rookie isn’t afraid to use his voice when it has been needed.
“You can tell how much he cares about the game and his passion for it, his love for it,” Kittle said. “Whether that is inspiring or motivating, I kind of think it is a little bit of both. You can tell how much work he puts in.”