WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va -- Drafting Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick offers even more benefits for the 49ers than what the quarterback can do on Sundays.
The rookie signal-caller offers a skill set that was previously lacking on the club’s roster. On Sunday, the 49ers will face Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts. The shifty quarterback carried the ball seven times for 62 yards in Week 1 and is the first mobile quarterback the defense will face this season (excluding the preseason).
Fred Warner and the 49ers' defense have faced off against Lance's mobility since the start of OTAs and it has helped them prepare for their Week 2 opponent.
In past seasons, Kyle Shanahan has called on agile non-quarterback players like receiver Richie James to step in at quarterback in order to prepare for the likes of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
“It's awesome when you do go against a running quarterback and your scout team quarterback has that skill set,” Shanahan said. “When you don't have that situation, we try to put in some more athletic guys at that spot, but the defense, who is trying to play honest, kind of gets an idea.
“So, it's cool when they get the same guy every time and you never know what's going to happen, which will be how it is for them on Sunday.”
Lance, who gets about 80 percent of the scout team reps, will benefit from time as a “Hurts stand-in.” Shanahan believes the rookie will also have an advantage at practice from being relieved of trying to stay within the confines of the 49ers offense which he is trying to master. Lance will be able to play like he would in an actual game situation.
“It's kind of good for rookie quarterbacks when you're on scout team all year, it's also the only spots you get to relax and play football,” Shanahan said. “When you get a card that's handed up, you just look at it and you try to put it into our own play. It doesn't always match, but you kind of get to experiment and that's a lot more beneficial if they get that opportunity.”
Shanahan would like Lance to be able to use elements of the 49ers; offense, but ultimately he wants to see the rookie quarterback put strain and pressure on the defense as they will experience in the game.
If the play breaks down in front of Lance as a result of pressure from the defense, the rookie has the authority to take advantage in any way possible, including with his legs. The benefits are two-fold.
“If you recognize the play and you can put it in our stuff, try to follow that,” Shanahan said. “The timing of the play, when to look, when you don't have enough time to wait on a play, because your scout team O-Line is getting beat, don't just sit there and take it, react like you would in a game.
“If it's not there in rhythm, it’s the same thing I'm going to want Trey to do in the game, run around, break the pocket, try to make a play. And that's where he can practice it and at the same time, prepare our defense.”