49ers defense failed to give Trey Lance confidence, says QB coach

SANTA CLARA — The good news for first-year starting quarterback Trey Lance is that he’s been practicing daily this summer against a defense that’s among the best in the NFL.

The bad news is that he’s been practicing daily this summer against a defense that is among the best in the NFL.

“It can’t get much tougher,” 49ers quarterback coach Brian Griese said of the challenge Lance faces on the team’s practice turf.

“You also want to build skills and some confidence,” he added with a laugh.

Lance has completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts in 11-on-11 practice since camp opened last week. Lance often found himself under pressure from the 49ers defensive line. And notable improvements at cornerback with Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley allowed for tighter windows.

“He understands it’s a great opportunity to grow and to do that against some of the best in the league,” Griese said of Lance.

Things haven’t been easy for the 49ers’ passing game. But Lance has also shown flashes of his big-play potential with his passing on the pitch and his ability to create plays with his running skills.

Griese pointed to what he saw of Garoppolo backstage as a reason he was “really encouraged”.

“He’s giving himself a chance because he shows up every day and he’s ready to work,” Griese said. “He has a humility that gives him a chance to learn from his mistakes and grow.

“I was really encouraged by his demeanor. It’s impressive for a young man of his age. It’s unnatural. The way he interacts with his team, the way he operates on the pitch, the way what he reacts to when he makes a mistake. All of these things are very, very positive in addition to his physical abilities, which are important.

Lance takes over from veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this season as the team’s starting quarterback.

After being No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance finds himself as the men’s leader at the age of 22.

Griese said Lance seemed to have an innate ability to handle those big demands.

“He’s able to compartmentalize his job, his role, his understanding of what he’s mentally responsible for, collectively as a leader of the team and the attack, what he’s responsible for,” Griese said.

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Timing is a big part of getting a quarterback in sync with the receivers in Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Timing is also key in navigating the different personalities, relationships and expectations of teammates, Griese said.

“Having the right time to communicate when to speak to someone, when to encourage, when to slow things down, when to pick things up,” Griese said. “You are truly a manager, not just of the game but of the people.

“For someone his age, he doesn’t give a fuck. We keep growing with it, but it has a foundation and a base that I think is really impressive.

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