There has been much excitement and praise surrounding Trey Lance's early tenure with the 49ers.
The rookie quarterback, whom the 49ers traded up to select with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has drawn rave reviews about his raw athleticism, intelligence and willingness to be coached during minicamp and OTAs, but there's something else about the North Dakota State product that star tight end George Kittle has loved.
"I think Trey, he has all the attributes to be a very special quarterback," Kittle said on "Good Morning Football" on NFL Network on Tuesday. "He's a freak athlete. I think really one of my favorite things about him right now as a rookie is that he takes risks. Like he doesn't complete all the passes that he throws, but he's trying to fit it into those small windows and he's just trying to throw it as hard as he can and get it to that wide receiver going through that second window and I think that is really fun just to see a guy take risks, especially when he just turned 21 years old and now he can buy me some Bud Light finally.
"But it is what it is. I'm just excited to see his progress throughout training camp, and he is an eager guy that wants to learn, and I know that when you are in a room with coach [Kyle] Shanahan, the mastermind, he's going to learn a lot, so I think he is in the right spot."
Lance's arrival has also appeared to bring out the best in Jimmy Garoppplo. Shanahan said he believes Garoppolo had his "best spring" as a 49er, and it's clear the 29-year-old has been motivated by the offseason trade talk. While Garoppolo admitted he thought about asking for a trade initially, he instead decided to compete to keep his starting job and show everyone he still has a lot of good football left in him.
"I know there was a story that came out that Jimmy Garoppolo was one of the first guys to text Trey Lance, and that's just the type of guy Jimmy is," Kittle told "GMFB" about the relationship between the two QBs. "He's not going to shy away from adversity or shy away from a draft pick. He has a fire lit under him and he is excited to roll. I know coach Shanahan said it, and I know I said it too -- I think Jimmy played one of his best OTA balls that I have seen out of him. He was just slinging it left and right, so that was fun to see.
"The great thing about the Niners organization is that we just welcome everybody that we bring in with open arms and we just want to see people succeed. And, at the end of the day, football is a competitive sport and competition is what breeds greatness. So when you have four guys in that [QB] room -- I think that we have four capable quarterbacks -- there is going to be a lot of competition over there and it's going to be fun to see that progress throughout training camp."
Big things are expected of Lance, obviously. The 49ers have spent the last two decades wandering through quarterback hell hoping to find a true franchise quarterback. They found glimpses of franchise potential in Garoppolo, Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, but each had warts that made the organization feel they weren't the long-term solution.
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch went all-in on Lance, trading first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to move and get the guy they believe can lead them to multiple Super Bowl titles.
So far, Lance, who just turned 21, has shown the talent that made the 49ers covet him at No. 3. Garoppolo, with that fire lit under him, is set on making the 2021 season all about him re-establishing himself.
But the future belongs to Lance.