Trey Lance’s only carry against the Packers in Friday’s preseason game wasn’t by design. The quarterback stepped up through the pocket, reset his feet, then took off for a seven-yard gain that ended in a slide. The ending was the most important part of the play. It was also a first.
Lance, who took a number of big hits in his minimal playing time last year because he was trying to run through tacklers, tried avoiding a hit for the first time ever Friday night.
“I got down,” Lance said in his postgame press conference via NBC Sports Bay Area. “That was my first time sliding in my whole entire life. So that was good.”
Avoiding hits is one of the single biggest improvements Lance can make this season. His accuracy and reads and such will all matter, to be sure, but he has to stay healthy. That’s especially true considering the 49ers’ injury issues when Jimmy Garoppolo was under center.
Seeing Lance slide in the open field just shy of the first-down marker as a defender closed in was the most positive development of his 2022 debut. Self-preservation is a skill that Lance appears to be picking up as he plays more football.
The key will be carrying that into the regular season when the games and yards all count. His health matters above all else, so hopefully for the 49ers his first slide isn’t his last.