When people try to project how Trey Lance will improve the 49ers offense, they mostly talk about his big-play ability, which is valid. He certainly will produce exciting highlights.
But there's something more subtle and fundamental Lance also will add: the ability to escape pressure.
The previous starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, does not avoid pressure well. So he typically throws the ball as quickly as possible to his first read if that receiver is open. If not, bad things usually happen because Garoppolo doesn't move well.
In 2021, Garoppolo was pressured 89 times and got sacked 29 times. Which means he went down 33 percent of the time he got pressured. Compare that to Lance, who got pressured 19 times in 2021, but got sacked only four times (21 percent). Big difference.
Even though Garoppolo is a statue compared to Lance, Garoppolo still managed to escape 66 percent of the pressure he faced last season. But even when he got away, he didn't make defenses pay because he scrambled just scrambled just six times all season and averaged a mere 3.7 yards per scramble.
Compare that to Lance, who scrambled 11 times in his limited action, and averaged a whopping 8.5 yards per scramble despite never gaining more than 15 yards on a run.
That means Lance avoids pressure much better than Garoppolo, and also is a significantly bigger threat to defenses after avoiding pressure. This bodes well for the 49ers, because they do not invest in pass protection at any position other than left tackle. Lance frequently will have to protect himself, and he's equipped to do just that.