Steve Young can't say if 49ers' Trey Lance is 'ready' to start at quarterback

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Why Steve Young can't say if Lance is 'ready' or not to start originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

As the start of OTAs inches closer for the 49ers, so does Trey Lance’s presumed role as the starting quarterback for San Francisco.

But is he ready?

That question has been at the forefront of conversations surrounding the second-year signal-caller and his preparedness for the top of the depth chart, and now three-time Super Bowl champion Steve Young is weighing in.

“The word ‘ready’ is just loaded. It’s not right,” the former 49ers quarterback said on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Monday. “He’s played two games, so, ‘Oh, he’s not ready’ … It doesn’t mean anything, because it’s like, of course, who’s ready? You’ve got to go play and prove it out.

“One thing about Trey that everyone has to understand is that he has not played a lot of football, you know, in general.”

Young made it clear that it’s nearly impossible to know just how “ready” Lance is based on his limited action during the 2021 NFL season, where he started two games, appeared in six and earned a 97.3 passer rating.

Even beyond his first season at the professional level, Lance had little opportunity to make an impact at North Dakota State, too, where he only played one full season thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic before being selected No. 3 overall by the 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“A lot of things that you figure out in college over the years, just marking receivers and understanding what your arm can do … It’s just things that you figure out by reps and doing it over and over and over,” Young told Eisen. “When they say he’s not ready, it’s because there’s not that body of work of him being on the field. They see what’s on the field -- amazing talent, amazing arm, all the things -- but there’s so much more to a quarterback, so when someone says he’s not ready, what else are you going to say? Because he hasn’t done it.”

Lance played in 19 total games during his time at North Dakota State, and the Bison went 19-0 in games in which he appeared.

Two of those games came in 2018 with another in 2020, but sandwiched between those years was a 2019 season that saw Lance’s star power explode for 3,000 passing yards and a roughly 66 percent completion rate all without throwing a single interception.

“I think the more important thing is, is he capable of the on-field recognition of routes, who's getting through the routes, who's open, anticipatory throwing, getting the ball out?” Young continued. “It seems like he has that. The thing that you worry about the most about being ready … is his sense of accuracy, the sense that, ‘I know my brain knows where to go with the ball, but my arm’s not necessarily cooperating.’ That's the biggest [thing] to me, Rich, as we get into the Trey Lance kind of issues.”

Lance’s 2019 accuracy didn’t exactly carry over into what limited action he saw during his first NFL season, throwing five touchdowns compared to two interceptions with a 58 percent completion percentage.

“That's the issue that I really want to focus on this summer and as he gets into the fall playing, is his arm connected? I do believe he has the ability to find the open guys,” Young said. “Processing power that you worry about, he has that. But can his arm do the work? You can't work on that. You can work on it on the edges. You either have that or you don't have that, and that's the number one thing I kind of want to see in the fall.”

RELATED: What advice 49ers legend Young would give to Lance

Young isn’t the first legendary 49ers quarterback to provide his feedback on Jimmy Garoppolo’s successor, and his comments on Monday seemed to be in direct contrast to Joe Montana’s February assessment that Lance isn’t ready for the starting job.

After the analysis he provided to Eisen, Young certainly doesn’t think the word ‘ready’ can be fairly used to describe Lance’s ability right now -- good or bad.

The 49ers Faithful will soon have plenty more to go off of when evaluating their quarterback of the future, however, because the future is now.

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