In a division flooded with star power, it’s Trey Lance entering this season as the most scrutinized new starting quarterback in the NFC West.
And one critical area fans and the media will look for out of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback: How he develops his chemistry with his 49er wide receivers.
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The 49ers’ Saturday, August 6 practice revealed multiple reports of a rather off day of work for Lance — a day that started with him completing his first four passes, an interception that turned into a pick six for Jimmie Ward and connecting on the “game-winning” touchdown to Ray-Ray McCloud during team drills.
But even on an “off day,” Lance gave the Bay Area media some insight on how the cohesion is early on with the following wideouts: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and rookie Danny Gray…better known as the trio likely to see the most targets among the WR core. Here’s what Lance told the media about each three.
Lance on Samuel
Many will be dialed in on if Lance and the All-Pro Samuel will become the next major QB/WR duo in the Bay Area — especially after NFL and 49er fans witnessed Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Rice, Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens and Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree.
How is the early cohesion with the newly paid $73.5 million “wide back?”
“It’s awesome,” Lance said. “I mean, anytime we’re both feeling good after practice. Yesterday was a little bit lower volume than today was, so anytime that we’re able to get extra work. Ray-Ray, [TE] George [Kittle]. During special teams, Deebo is on some special teams, so it’s hard during those in-between periods to get extra work with him. And obviously, we use him in so many different ways, so there’s so many things we can do to get extra reps, outside of just throwing routes. But it’s been awesome to have him back, man. Just in the locker room, his energy’s been back. In the meeting room, he’s just a high-energy guy, fun guy to be around. And everyone knows what he does on the field.”
Lance on Gray
The third rounder from Southern Methodist, and the 49ers’ last pick of day two of the 2022 NFL Draft, was selected to blow the top off defenses as a blazing fast deep threat.
Per David Lombardi of The Athletic, Gray showed his field gliding skills against a defensive back who once ran a reported 4.38 40-yard dash time.
Lance got asked if having Gray out there has been helpful in getting his timing down with his speed.
“Yeah. We were just with him phase one and phase two, so just routes on air. So this is the first time I’ve gotten live reps and one-on-one reps with him and yeah, man, he’s done a great job,” Lance said.
And what’s been the work ethic like out of the 6-foot, 200-pounder who played in the Air Raid offense in Dallas?
“He’s getting better every single day,” Lance said. “We give him a hard time sometimes, but man, he’s really done a great job. He’s growing every day and he’s got great guys ahead of him to look at.”
Lance on Aiyuk
Arguably, the third-year wideout and former 2020 first rounder has been the most impressive performer during 2022 49ers camp — with even defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans praising his work so far.
But it just so happens that Lance has already seen catches like the ones “B.A.” has pulled…by working out with him during the offseason in Southern California.
“I give the credit to Brandon. That’s the work he put in,” Lance said. “I’ve been saying it since this whole spring, summer he was locked in this offseason. I think he had a goal of separating himself and becoming kind of a different player. And he’s done that, man. He’s in a great spot right now, physically, mentally, he’s seeing the game, he’s feeling the game, he’s killing guys right now. He is making some really big plays and separating himself, so I know he is going to continue to do that. And that’s a credit to the way he comes every day.”
Time will tell which one gets the most touches, but Lance says “We got playmakers, thankfully. That’s the way we’ve done it here and we got guys that can make plays across the board.”