49ers OC Mike McDaniel offers insight into Trey Lance’s development

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The physical traits with Trey Lance were never in doubt. His ability to run and make all the throws was apparent on his college tape as he dominated at the FCS level for North Dakota State. The question marks came in how he’d adapt to the NFL after starting just 17 college games. We’ll have to wait and see how he plays within the speed of an NFL game, but his mental acuity has him in a good spot to tie his physical traits with his high football IQ to quickly become the player the 49ers want him to be.

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel offered some insight into how Lance is doing off the field since his on-field feats have been readily apparent.

“There’s an element of confidence that is unique. I wouldn’t say he’s loud or boisterous. He has a calm confident swag that I think really appeals to players,” McDaniel told reporters Wednesday. “He knows the pressure that’s on him, like any other player. So he really is really comfortable in his own skin, I’d say. And he’s getting to the point where he can correct other players, which from a coach’s perspective is all you’re looking for. You want a coach on the field. The person that a receiver is going to listen to, much more than a coach, is the guy that’s throwing him the ball. So he’s been very good with that and I think a lot of the guys respond to that.”

Getting his teammates to buy into him is a sizable hurdle Lance already seems to be clearing. There’s a big difference between knowing what to do and being able to do it against an NFL defense, but given the available benchmarks in training camp, Lance appears to be on the right track.

McDaniel confirmed Lance still isn’t perfect, but he’s coming along the way they anticipated when they selected him.

“Well, it’s a work in progress, which is what you would, if you’re doing anything that’s really that difficult, you probably shouldn’t be elite at it right from the jump,” McDaniel said. “So that’s one of the reasons why we have to rep it so much, rep all the plays so much, is because it isn’t easy. So he’s right where we’d want them in terms of he’s in the developmental stage of all of it some plays are good, some plays are bad, but we try to focus on the bad, so there can be more good.”

While McDaniel was generally more complimentary of Lance than head coach Kyle Shanahan has been, the general theme is the same. Lance has all the tools, but there’s a ton of polish required to supplant a veteran starter at quarterback. The good news is Lance appears to have every tangible and intangible tool to be great, and that’s all the 49ers need from him whether he’s on the field in 2021 or 2022.

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