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Sources: Noticeable difference in Lance's throws with healthy finger originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
There’s more to Trey Lance’s finger being healthy than those outside of 49ers headquarters might think.
Sources close to the quarterback have shared with NBC Sports Bay Area that now, with a fully recovered finger, Lance’s passes are noticeably “more crisp and tighter.” Unable to fully use his index finger to finish off throws during the 2021 season, receivers had to adjust when Lance was under center.
Jimmy Garoppolo is known for his tight spiral and quick release, which keeps the ball “spinning as it is being caught,” a source said. Lance’s throws have “quite a bit more velocity” and the young quarterback throws a “slightly more accurate deep ball,” especially now that the 22-year-old is fully recovered from the injury.
The young quarterback injured his throwing index finger in the club’s preseason game vs. the Las Vegas Raiders when his hand collided with linebacker Max Richardson’s helmet. In May, Lance reported his finger improved through his rookie year but he was not able to fully straighten the finger until well into the 2022 offseason.
“I think the finger for me was the biggest thing just as far as throwing the ball,” Lance said. “I kind of had to learn how to throw the ball differently without using my pointer finger I guess just because of where it was at throughout the year. But now, I feel like I'm in a great spot health-wise and throwing the ball well and I feel really good.”
Lance appeared in six games for the 49ers in his debut season, two as a starter. As a rookie, he completed 41 of his 71 attempts for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, giving him a 57.7-percent completion rate.
In comparison, Garoppolo completed 301 of his 441 attempts for 3,810 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the regular season. The veteran’s 68.3-percent regular-season completion rate compared to Lance can not only be explained by the experience of the quarterback himself, but also due to the chemistry with his receivers and familiarity with his style of passing.
Lance taking all of the first-team reps through OTAs and mandatory minicamp will help him build chemistry with his skill players and get them familiar with how the ball will arrive as they are targeted. With more reps, Lance's completion rate should undoubtedly go up in his second season, where he will most likely be the team's starting quarterback.