Trey Lance understands that nothing in the NFL is guaranteed and is eager to once again prove worthy of being named the 49ers' starting quarterback.
Lance began the 2022 season as San Francisco's starter under center and appeared to be the 49ers' future at the position before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. After Brock Purdy's unlikely ascension from Mr. Irrelevant to NFC Rookie of the Year candidate, Lance reclaiming his starting job in 2023 became far from guaranteed, even with Purdy expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn UCL that will sideline him for at least six months.
In speaking with NFL Network's Rich Eisen on the "Rich Eisen Show" at Super Bowl LVII media week on Wednesday, Lance discussed how difficult the season was for him and how he stayed involved with the team while rehabbing his broken ankle.
"It was hard, it was hard for sure," Lance said. "Ups and downs throughout the year. It got easier when I found my role. Probably a few weeks after my first surgery I just talked to Kyle [Shanahan] just like 'what can I do?'
"I started with base downs, breaking down pressure and when Brock [Purdy] started playing it definitely picked up, which is around the time of my second surgery. I needed something to feel like I was contributing. That was the hardest thing for me getting to that spot where I'm feeling good, doing my rehab, I'm in the meetings, asking the right questions, but I didn't feel like I was truly helping a lot of the time when Jimmy [Garoppolo] is playing. Obviously, Jimmy [Garoppolo] is a vet, played at a very high level, but once Brock took over I feel like I needed to help. So whatever it was, base-down pressures, third-down pressures, red zone, I just tried to help as much as I could."
Eisen asked Lance if he had received any assurances from coach Kyle Shanahan during his rehab as to whether or not he would retain his starting job in 2023.
"It wasn't that situation and I wouldn't want it to be that way," Lance admitted. "Brock played way too well and Brock played at such a high level and handled himself the right way. I wouldn't want it to be a situation where I'm handed something. I feel horrible, obviously for Brock for his injury, but for me, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Whether (the job) is his or mine, I'm going to be better for it and I'm excited to get on the field and compete. That's all I want an opportunity to do."
With Purdy having immediate success after taking over for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13, some believe that Lance no longer is the answer at the position and his lack of college and NFL experience hinders his ability to lead the 49ers' Super Bowl-caliber roster. All of that is just noise to Lance and the third-year pro is ready to prove his doubters wrong.
"All I can say to people at the end of the day is that I'm going to do everything I possibly can to be as prepared as I possibly can to be ready to go every week," Lance added. "At the end of the day, I'm not going to promise anyone anything. I believe in myself and at the end of the day that's all I can do."
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Lance should be cleared to return to the field in the next few weeks and likely will be QB1 for the 49ers during spring workouts and OTAs with Purdy's recovery and subsequent ramp-up period likely sidelining him until early August.
Barring an unforeseen addition to the roster, the 49ers will allow Lance and Purdy to battle it out in training camp. And regardless of how it plays out, Lance will stay ready for when his name is called.