What Trey Lance needs to show Kyle Shanahan, 49ers in preseason opener

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What Shanahan needs to see from Lance in preseason opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Quarterback Trey Lance will only be on the field a short time for the 49ers on Friday night against the Packers, but there are a few things coach Kyle Shanahan will be expecting to see from the 22-year-old.

The head coach has laid out plans for Lance to play for a series or two in the club’s first preseason game of the 2022 season. If the quarterback’s first series is a reasonably long drive ending in a score, Shanahan likely will call it a night for the play-caller and his starters.

In Lance’s abbreviated time on the field, Shanahan will be hoping to see the him knock the rust off from the offseason and get valuable experience facing a different defense.

While it cannot be expected for Lance to see immediate success in his first live action since Week 17 of the 2021 season, Shanahan will be looking to see progress from the young quarterback in a few categories.

Reading the defense

Facing the Packers will be Lance’s first opportunity to face a new defense in months. While the Packers will keep their defensive scheme relatively simple during the preseason in order to not show their cards, it will still be great experience for Lance.

Shanahan likely will not game plan too much during the preseason, but Lance simply being at the line of scrimmage and getting experience will help prepare him for the regular season.

Showing patience

During practice, Lance has already shown that his first instinct is not to tuck the ball and run when his first read is covered. Many times throughout training camp, the mobile quarterback has sat in the pocket and gone through his progressions and only become a ball carrier as a last resort.

If Lance shows the same processing skills in live game action with a defensive front getting pressure on him, that will be a win for Shanahan and the 49ers.

Making good business decisions

Since Lance’s consistent first regular-season play in Week 4 of last season, he has made better decisions when it comes to taking hits on the field. While Shanahan applauded Lance for his desire to get extra yards during each play -- especially facing the Arizona Cardinals the following week -- it must not be at the cost of his physical health.

RELATED: Shanahan: Lance's broken finger created "issues" last season

Lance showed growth by not taking as many hits 13 weeks later against the Houston Texans, a win that helped punch the 49ers' ticket to the postseason. Shanahan would like to see that trend continue.

Not forcing throws

Lance has thrown several interceptions during training camp, but he is not to blame for all of them. On Tuesday, however, Shanahan explained one of the quarterback’s mistakes from practice the day prior that ended up in the hands of linebacker Fred Warner.

“Just threw it right to him, trying to force the ball and he just obviously has to check it down,” Shanahan said. “He was extremely covered.”

While Shanahan believes in the benefits of the discussions revolving around those types of plays in practice, he wants to see his quarterback learn from his mistakes. Once the 49ers open up the regular season in Chicago, similar decisions will be much more costly.

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