Kyle Shanahan cut the 49ers' offseason program short, but the work San Francisco did get in was invaluable -- especially as it pertains to rookie quarterback Trey Lance.
Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, drew rave reviews from coaches and teammates during rookie minicamps and OTAs, as he was praised for his athleticism, intelligence and willingness to be coached. And it appears the 49ers had a specific focus when it came to Lance's work at OTAs, as ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported that the Niners concentrated on cleaning up the rookie's mechanics during his first on-field NFL work.
"I'm told San Fran spent much of the OTAs and minicamp working on Trey Lance's mechanics, making sure things were compact," Fowler said via Riley Gates of 247 Sports (h/t 49ers Webzone). "And the reason is they wanted to get that down so that in training camp they can unleash the full arsenal. They can show him off as a runner."
During the pre-draft process, the biggest critique of Lance was that he had a tendency to get a little loose with his delivery and therefore lacked accuracy and consistency on short and intermediate throws outside the hashes.
Lance, 21, only played 17 games at North Dakota State and still has a lot of developing to do as a quarterback. But he is an elite athlete with top-level arm talent and his ability to be a real threat in the QB run game is one of the reasons Shanahan was attracted to him in the draft.
However, accuracy on short and intermediate throws is of paramount importance in Shanahan's offense, so the mechanical consistency will have to be there before he can be trusted with the keys to the offense.
Having Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster gives the 49ers a ton of runway to work with Lance. While Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will start right away, and Justin Fields likely will be thrust into the starting role at some point early this season, Garoppolo gives the 49ers the luxury to sit Lance and let him develop and learn before taking over for Garoppolo.
Lance's skills are too special to be stapled to the bench. Shanahan likely will create packages for the rookie in order to keep defenses off balance.
But with Garoppolo having his "best spring" as a 49er and Lance still finetuning his mechanics, it seems likely that Garoppolo will, as expected, enter the season as QB1.