With two NFL preseason games in the books, the 49ers' top draft pick is showing signs of progress.
It was a tough start for Trey Lance on Sunday facing the Los Angeles Chargers. Three dismal drives would normally be discouraging to see, but not for Kyle Shanahan. How the rookie bounced back after facing adversity was a positive for the head coach.
“I know it got him down pretty bad,” Shanahan said Monday. “But to watch him go out there and recover was nice for me to see. I haven’t seen him have to play through too much stuff like that watching all of his college tape.”
Lance, who only threw one interception throughout his 19-game college career, dominated his FCS competition. Prior to the 49ers' preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the North Dakota State product had not played in a live game since Oct. 3, 2020.
That 2020 contest was Lance’s only game action the entire year after the team’s season was canceled due to COVID-19. The former Bison quarterback hasn’t played in consecutive games since the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Knocking the rust off and getting acclimated to the NFL and Shanahan’s offense have been priorities. Shanahan expected a learning curve, and Lance’s struggles have not been a surprise.
Following Lance’s first preseason game vs. the Chiefs, Shanahan mentioned that the quarterback reverted to some of his bad habits, even though they had been diligently working on improving his fundamentals in practice.
“I think anytime you get thrown into the heat of the battle, especially these young guys who haven’t played a lot, you always kind of resort to what you’ve done and your technique is off a lot,” Shanahan said.
“He did that a ton in the first game and was much better in the second game. I hope he will continue to get better in this third game.”
Having not faced too many challenges in college, Shanahan was unsure how the rookie would handle the struggles of turnovers, not to mention being unable to convert a first down. Lance putting together two separate solid offensive drives showed promise.
“To be able to see him do that on this stage,” Shanahan said. “To do it out there and be able to lead them on a few series, and let him kind of fight through that -- I really think that after that, he started to get into his best rhythm that he’s been in in these two games.”
Shanahan plans to have many of his starters play in the final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Lance is sure to see a number of reps as well.