Trey Lance struggled during the first half of the 49ers' win vs. the Houston Texans, but the rookie eventually found his groove and led San Francisco to a 23-7 win at Levi's Stadium.
In just his second career NFL start, Lance showcased the star potential that made head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch draft him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. While Lance showed flashes of his immense potential, it was also clear to 49ers legend Steve Young just how green Lance is as a quarterback.
"Trey is big and strong and powerful," Young said Wednesday on KNBR. "You can see all the things you want to see more of, right? But it hit me the other day as I was watching him as he tried to meter throws over linebackers and tried to figure out where people are; it just hit me that they said he had thrown 300 passes in college, and you think to yourself just how much I learned playing more and metering things so I can get a sense of what works, what doesn't work, how to put it into that spot. In the NFL, obviously, it gets faster and more difficult, but it just hit me that we are going to watch Trey go from essentially, not zero, but two to 10.
"Like that whole process of seeing him grow, we are actually going to witness," Young continued. "Because he doesn't come from a place of playing at Alabama for three years or Clemson for three years and getting all of that stuff worked out in the system. He's going to do that in front of us. I'm cool with it. It just hit me that that's where we are with him, and that's a positive.
"I thought that the first half scared me because it was just too much. The idea that I can kind of get ahead of it. And then, in the second half, he settles in and actually does a lot of cool stuff; it's like, hey, yes, OK. We can take that kind of iteration where it starts slow, I have to figure it out, get up to speed and then, bam, I'm up to speed. That's the kind of process, the cycle that we can all live with, and we'll expect that to better and better -- not incrementally huge every time, but better and better, and, we'll all kind of go along with the growth of the great Trey Lance because he starts from Square One or Two."
Watching Lance on Sunday vs. the Texans, it was clear that the North Dakota State product still is learning to play the position. While Lance looked more comfortable against the Texans than in his first career start, he made a number of young quarterback mistakes while piloting Shanahan's paired-down offense.
While there were several teaching moments, Lance also ripped off several impressive throws, including a 45-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel.
With Jimmy Garoppolo's status for the regular-season finale up in the air, Lance's third career start could come Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, with the 49ers needing a win or a loss by the New Orleans Saints to punch their playoff ticket.
Experience is life's greatest teacher, and Lance is getting some critical lessons late in his rookie season.