Trey Lance Reveals Thoughts on 49ers’ On-Field Return So Far

San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan, Trey Lance

Getty San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan talking to Trey Lance.

After seeing his 2022 NFL season end after just 84 snaps, Trey Lance has officially recovered from a series of surgeries to be a full-go for the San Francisco 49ers for OTAs.

Discussing how it feels to be back on the field in San Francisco with reporters during OTAs, Lance expressed the joy he feels to be back on the field at full strength.

“I really feel like I’m having fun playing football again,” Lance said via ESPN. “It’s hard those first years, my first year and especially and then last year … I finally feel like I’m able to just have fun and enjoy it again.”

Though he’s been a member of the 49ers since 2021, Lance has played just 262 snaps for the team during the regular season. Now fully healthy, fans will finally be afforded a chance to see if John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan’s decision to draft Lance third overall was the right one.

Kyle Shanahan Comments on Trey Lance’s Thumb Injury

Discussing Lance’s injury history, specifically a thumb injury that impacted his ability to deliver the ball effectively as a rookie, Shanahan complemented his 23-year-old quarterback for reworking his throwing mechanics to become a better all-around passer.

“I think it impacted him a ton because he had to adjust it during the season just to be able to get through. He was healthy, but it didn’t heal healthy, so he had to change how he played in the middle of the year while mainly taking scout team reps and being prepared as a number two except for a couple games. Going into the offseason having to re-correct that,” Shanahan said via Niners Nation.

“I think it took him all offseason, so he worked at re-correcting that throughout the whole offseason and then he was just thrown into practice with us going into this year. That was corrected throughout last year. His grip and everything. I thought he had got that going this time with his time away. He knew what he had to focus on. He had known what he had struggled with, he had known what he had done good with. He’d gotten to see two different quarterbacks playing our offense two different ways and I just think his time away was a lot more deliberate and, in a position where he knew what he could isolate on, which I think helped him compared to last year.”

Heading into 2022, Lance was the 49ers’ unquestioned starting quarterback, so much so that Jimmy Garoppolo was kept away from any sort of competition in order to give the North Dakota State product as many first-team snaps as possible. In 2023, however, Lance finds himself in a different situation, as his 2022 backup, Brock Purdy, has overcome the odds to become the leader in the clubhouse to start when healthy.

Trey Lance Understands the San Francisco 49ers’ QB Room

Despite their disparate draft positions, Purdy’s impressive run in 2022, going 7-1 as a starter, has made him a favorite to start over Lance in 2023.

Though some former top-3 picks may feel as though they are owed a chance to start if all things are close to equal, Lance feels otherwise, as he’s just happy to compete and showcase his abilities moving forward.

“Nothing’s changed for me,” Lance said. “As far as the stuff with Brock, that’s the same thing I told you guys last year at the end of the year, my opportunity is just to come in and compete and that’s all I wanted. I don’t want to take anything away from Brock and no one should be able to take anything away from Brock. … I just want an opportunity to compete.”

Unless Lance fully separates himself from the rest of the field, becoming the 49ers’ franchise quarterback long-term, fans of teams across the NFL will look to the NDSU product as a potential trade target at some point in the next 12 months. In a way, Lance isn’t just competing with Purdy and Sam Darnold but for an opportunity to prove his worth elsewhere, a la his former mentor, Garoppolo, before him.