Trey Lance is turning into the leader Kyle Shanahan expected him to be.
That much was evident Friday on two occasions when the new 49ers starting quarterback put all else aside to grab his teammates’ first touchdown balls.
While wide receiver Danny Gray and rookie signal-caller Brock Purdy assuredly were thankful for the unexpected gesture, Shanahan told reporters before practice on Monday that the maturity and professionalism already exuding from Lance is exactly why San Francisco drafted him in 2021.
“It’s what we’ve expected,” Shanahan said on Monday morning from Levi’s Stadium. “... That’s why we wanted him and he’s been how we expected. I think when you’re like that and you have the skill set and you can keep stacking days together, it’s a matter of time before you get to a certain level.”
Lance’s showing against the Green Bay Packers in the 49ers’ first preseason game at Levi’s Stadium on Friday reminded fans of his pure athleticism and abilities. From his 76-yard touchdown pass to Gray to his first-ever slide into defenders, his on-field capabilities after a tricky start to training camp practices were on display.
But there’s also been a shift in the way he handles himself compared to his rookie season. As QB1, it appears Lance is flourishing in his new role, joking with reporters during press conferences and carrying himself with a comfortability often found in seasoned vets.
While Shanahan believes Lance has been able to show his true personality during his entire 49ers tenure so far, he said Monday, he also realizes that with more experience comes more confidence for the first-year starter.
“I think he was himself [last season],” Shanahan said. “I think it takes everyone time to get comfortable with talking to the media. Everyone’s scared to say something bad and mess up, so if sometimes people aren’t as relaxed and aren’t themselves, the more they get relaxed and don’t worry as much about saying bad things or get more comfortable with the long, slow questions. They get more relaxed.
“I think everyone’s like that, and Trey’s a very personable guy. He’s a funny guy, and so the more you guys are around him, the more comfortable he is and the more you’ll see that.”
In his second season with San Francisco, there’s still much to be seen as far as where Lance can take the team from the quarterback position. Friday’s preseason win was a good start, and fans certainly feel optimistic about the 49ers’ chances.
But abilities and scores aside, it’s clear the team is in good hands -- a leader’s hands -- moving forward.