Trey Lance had good moments and bad moments during his first real extended NFL action last Sunday in the 49ers' 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft entered at halftime after Jimmy Garoppolo exited with a calf injury, and went 9-of-18 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Lance was jittery to start, as he missed his first pass low to George Kittle and then sailed one over Deebo Samuel's head.
Still, Lance showed the tools that caused coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to tab him as the franchise's future. 49ers legend Steve Young saw a lot of himself in the rookie's play.
"Watching Trey throughout the game, it reminded me of my Tampa Bay days," Young said Thursday on KNBR. "He has a much better team with him right now than I did, but it reminded me of how I played. Everything I had, you got it full speed. It was not very refined. I was not going to go down without a fight. We were going to move the ball. We were going to figure it out.
"And that last drive, it just felt really familiar. I know that Trey has a much better team than I did, but wow! It was something you can build off of. And I left the game wanting to see more. I know it's going to be crazy and frenetic, and we're going to have some growing pains, but I came away wanting to see more."
The flashes Lance showed against the Seahawks have many believing the rookie is the 49ers' best option at quarterback, even if Garoppolo is healthy. Young, however, isn't ready to go that far.
"Now, in reference to Jimmy, Jimmy is so much more polished," Young said. "And the idea of getting to the Super Bowl right now, it would feel like Jimmy is the best bet because he's more polished. But you can feel the power and the athleticism and the opportunity with Trey. You can feel it. And you want to see more of it."
Garoppolo did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but Shanahan told KNBR that the veteran QB will try to practice Friday to see if he can play Sunday when the 49ers visit the undefeated Arizona Cardinals. If Garoppolo can't go, Lance will make his first NFL start at State Farm Stadium.
While Lance's talent is clear, Young sees why Shanahan doesn't believe the rookie is ready to be the starter.
"Right now, obviously, there's still some concern, and you can see it in the play," Young said. "The ball is flying around five feet over some of the slants. It's chaotic. But because it looks familiar to me, I don't know if it's going to work out like me, but when I watched him, I said that is something I can build off of."
It's unfair to judge Lance off his play against the Seahawks. He was thrown into the fire and tasked with executing a game plan that was built around Garoppolo's strengths. If Lance is the starter this Sunday, the 49ers will have a pared-down game plan tailored toward what Lance does best, giving everyone the first real look at what the rookie and Shanahan can do together.