Trey Lance tipped to step up for 49ers in 2022 NFL season
Trey Lance saw limited action for the 49ers as a rookie in 2021, but Steve Mariucci does not believe that to be a bad thing.
The rollercoaster that was the San Francisco 49ers' 2021 season was one in which calls to go with Trey Lance over Jimmy Garoppolo were frequent. However, former Niners head coach Steve Mariucci believes it will ultimately be beneficial for last year's third overall pick that Kyle Shanahan resisted those calls.
San Francisco enjoyed a turnaround to finish 10-7 after a 3-5 start to make the playoffs, where the Niners upset both the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers en route to the NFC Championship Game.
However, the 49ers let slip a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Los Angeles Rams in a 20-17 defeat in which Garoppolo failed to move the ball on each of the final two drives, defeat clinched with an interception on a desperate heave under pressure that will likely be the last throw of his Niners career.
Lance made two starts in relief of an injured Garoppolo but only took snaps in four games beyond those appearances, serving as a spectator for the entirety of the postseason.
With Garoppolo expected to be traded and hand the reins to Lance for 2022 and beyond, Mariucci expects the man San Francisco traded three first-round picks to acquire to be better positioned to handle the challenges he will face as a starting quarterback because of his time on the sideline.
Mariucci: "Trey Lance will be a rookie again"
"In some ways, Trey Lance will be a rookie again from a playing standpoint," Mariucci said at a pre-Super Bowl media event on Wednesday.
"The best thing for a player is to get on the field and play when it counts and that's in a game. The good news for him is he's had a year of sitting and watching a veteran prepare, learning the system, learning pro defenses, learning all these disguises and these crazy blitzes that he didn't see against South Dakota State, and that's a plus for him. He'll be more ready to do this when he gets his chance next year."
Lance was arguably the most athletically gifted quarterback in the 2021 draft class, with his abilities with his legs set to add another element to head coach Shanahan's already dynamic offense.
Referencing two quarterbacks he coached during his time with the Niners, Mariucci added: "I think the playbook is going to be a little bit different, they're going to use his legs moreso than they did Jimmy, with some zone-reads and some quarterback type runs and some movement and some keeps and some 'get em out there'.
"[It's a] little bit like when Jeff Garcia or Steve Young played, you change the launchpoint, it's all over the place, makes him more difficult to defend, and he's going to make first downs with his legs too.
"This year was beneficial for him from a learning standpoint and next year here's going to show us what he's got, I can't wait."