Quarterback wrestling was the theme of the early part of 49ers training camp, especially on the third day when the freshman Trey Lance made an interception doing only a few of the 10 or 11 throws depending on who you’re following.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan, despite some mistakes at center, likes what he’s seen on his quarterbacks. He told reporters ahead of Friday’s practice that training camp is a good time to make some of the mistakes his signalmen make.
“But I just love that they copy it,” Shanahan said. “What you don’t want guys to do, especially in training camp, is say, ‘I thought it was there, but I don’t want to throw a pickaxe, so I checked it out.’ Sometimes you need to know if it was there, and the only way to do that is to let it rip.”
This was the topic of conversation with Patrick Mahomes at his first training camp as a Chiefs starter in 2018. He made a lot of mistakes and made a lot of interceptions because he was testing the limits of what his skill set could and couldn’t do against the NFL. protection.
I’m sure Lance has something similar.
Much was made of Lance’s learning curve in his first year as an NFL rookie with so little playing experience under his belt. However, Shanahan’s role in his 2022 QB campaign cannot be underestimated. At the end of the day, Lance will have the responsibility of being the playmaker no matter what happens on the sidelines, but if the team is going to reach the heights it has achieved in 2021, the head coach will have some responsibility to put in the young QB. positions for success.
That’s where these practical mistakes can come in handy.
“That’s why in training they don’t kill guys for a pickaxe,” Shanahan said. “If it gets too much, you need to start teaching them how not to, but at least you have an idea of what they can do, what they can do, what games they can do. So, as a coach, you can protect him a little, or you know he’s going to drop it no matter what. So I have to make sure I want to get that first right look. And that’s what we’re working on right now.”
To be clear, it’s not necessarily a good thing that QBs struggle early on. It’s also not necessarily “bad” and there’s an opportunity to learn from mistakes.
The next step for Lance and the 49ers QB is to build on what they learn from the risks they take and the shots they take in practice, and then adapt accordingly. From there, Shanahan also needs to learn and make sure he services the offense with the strengths of his QBs. As long as those two things are aligned, the 49ers should be fine on offense in the long run.
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