While fan expectations are through the roof, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel is a realist.
McDaniel likes what he has seen from Trey Lance so far, but he knows this is just the beginning of the rookie quarterback’s NFL journey. Lance has flashed in eye-popping plays at practice, but the coaching staff understands that they have yet to see him in a live-game situation.
McDaniel wants Lance to continue to improve and learn from his time on the field in the team’s preseason opener Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the offensive coordinator wouldn’t give an estimate of how long the 21-year-old signal-caller would be in the game.
“That’s something that you wait on,” McDaniel said Wednesday. “Not because we’re procrastinators, more because you want to do justice to each and every practice. So, you let players perform, you see how they are progressing and then you approach it from there.
“We know he’s going to play, and we know for the most part what guys aren’t going to play. There’s going to be some guys we think are going to play that don’t end up doing so because of the way the game shapes up.”
Most importantly, McDaniel wants to see Lance progressing and learning from the mistakes that inevitably will happen. The coaching staff realizes the quarterback’s game will be far from perfect, but how he reacts to adversity will be the true test of his mettle.
“You just want to see players learn from mistakes,” McDaniel said. “It’s more about how you respond and apply specific coaching because there’s a lot going on. Want to see him go out there and operate and see no procedural penalties. [We] want to see him have success and failures and learn from both.”
McDaniel sees every rep as invaluable for Lance, who will play in front of a stadium full of fans for the first time since North Dakota State was in the FCS National Championship game following the 2019 season. Crowd noise alone could be a factor with play calls coming through the speaker in his helmet.
McDaniel isn’t looking for one specific aspect of Lance's game to improve, but he's hopeful that the rookie doesn't repeat the same mistakes.
“It’s really a little of everything in terms of -- shoot, he hasn’t heard play calls in a stadium with fans ever,” McDaniel said. “That’s the perspective that you have to really grasp and whether he does outstanding or has some rough patches, it’s part of the process, and that’s why we have a whole preseason.”
Some 49ers fans might not get enough of Lance on the field Saturday, but the rookie likely will see plenty of playing time as the preseason continues.