49ers’ Trey Lance delivers in clutch but still misfiring with Deebo Samuel

SANTA CLARA — Six seconds remained on the clock. Trey Lance needed to finish off a lengthy drive with a touchdown. And he did.

How the 49ers’ new starting quarterback produced those points was as interesting as it was necessary.

“In that situation, everyone is on the goal line, and I’m on the 20-yard line. If I run, the game is over,” Lance said. “I’m not going to run through eight guys in that situation.”

Flash back to Lance’s first of only two starts his rookie season. At Arizona, trailing 7-0, looking to cap a 94-yard drive, Lance ran for the right pylon on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, only to get frighteningly slammed short of the goal line.

So here he was in Saturday’s two-minute drill, closing down an early-August practice at an up-and-down training camp. He had his best targets on the field: camp MVP Bradon Aiyuk, still catching-up-to-speed Deebo Samuel, ever-bullish George Kittle, and, new slot receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.

With his linemen fending off a four-man rush, Lance moved up in the pocket and, in off-schedule fashion, discovered Ray-Ray McCloud open over the middle for a touchdown strike.

“I know I’ve got to get the ball out, give those guys a shot and Ray-Ray made a great play,” Lance said.

Thus, Saturday was a good day in Lance’s progress report. He hit camp-highs with 12 completions on 19 attempts, including three completions to George Kittle on that last drive and a much-needed catch by Deebo Samuel, who slightly nudged ace cornerback Charvarius Ward to create separation on his crossing route.

Now don’t go thinking the 22-year-old dual threat is a perfect passer. He has a 54-percent completion rate, and he’s had a pass intercepted in 5-of-9 practices, with Jimmie Ward doing the honors Saturday on the drive preceding the eight-play march for the Lance-to-McCloud touchdown.

Part of Lance’s sub-par completion percentage can be attributed to: 1.) drops, such as Jauan Jennings’ Saturday; 2.) pocket pressure, though Lance adroitly defended his linemen; 3.) arguably the NFL’s best defense; and, 4.) off-target throws that typically sail high.

Lance notably ran on two plays Saturday’s final drive. A narrative he’s facing this camp and for the foreseeable future is when he should abandon a pass play and run. To which he said Saturday: “I haven’t really changed my mindset as far as … no one’s telling me not to run, or to run. Just play fast.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan, poker face and all, said the offense changes “not really at all” with Lance pressing over it instead of Jimmy Garoppolo, who remains stowed on a side field throwing during this camp while awaiting a trade or release.

“When you have the threat of a running QB, it can change defenses, and you adjust,” Shanahan said. “We had stuff in last year and worked on stuff. … If they don’t account for him, he gets to run.”

Lance’s best passing plays are emphatically going to Aiyuk. “He’s killing guys right now. He’s making some really big plays and separating himself,” said Lance, worked with …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


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