“He's getting to the point where he can correct other players, which from a coach's perspective is all you're looking for.”
That is what 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said about Trey Lance regarding his presence in the offense.
These are words that are scarce to come by for a rookie. The guy has come in from Day 1 of OTAs and has put the pedal to the metal. He has shown just how embedded he is in the offense and how to execute it. Sprinkle that in with some explosive off-script plays and you have yourself a player who is ready for the next step.
It’s time for Lance to consistently get first-team reps.
Kyle Shanahan has tried his best to sober up the performances of Lance in practice, but the reality is that it’s getting difficult to do so. The media and fans in attendance of camp can see it is as clear as day that Lance has looked better and can lift the ceiling of the offense higher than Jimmy Garoppolo. The third session of training camp kicks off on Friday. That is the time for Shanahan to start Lance off with a handful of first-team reps.
His peers have also recognized that going up against the second-team is child’s play to him. Now is the time to see how he fairs against the actual starters. That is where the true measuring stick will start to kick in between Lance and Garoppolo. All the momentum is riding with Lance, so a sweet stretch of practices against the first-team defense will bring up the biggest question: is Lance ready to start Week 1?
Seven practices have concluded for the 49ers in which Lance has performed at a high level. Let him get more than just one or two reps against the starters. This will truly get him better prepared in the preseason, which will be the next test for him following practice with the starters.
Unfortunately, dividing first-team reps between Lance and Garoppolo probably won’t happen until Lance shows out in the first preseason game.
“Well, we try not to get ahead of ourselves,” said McDaniel on splitting first-team reps. “Look, we’re telling players that they have to go and attack every day. So it wouldn't be responsible for us if we're making decisions prematurely in advance of that. So really, that stuff comes a couple of days before the pre-season game. Not until then, because we don't want to short change all the competition from here until then.”
If that is going to be the case, then the 49ers might as well start giving him some starting reps now. I’m confident that Lance will look strong against the Chiefs in Week 1 of the preseason. It should also behoove the 49ers to start implementing him in this third session of training camp so as to get him more prepared. Either way, the noise is getting louder and louder.
It’s going to get to a point where Shanahan can no longer shrug it off and start to acknowledge that Lance should have his fair share of first-team reps.