“Honestly, the only difference is I wish you guys would stop asking me about it all the time,” Lance said Thursday. “For me, it wasn’t really a moment or anything. I was excited. I’ve been preparing to play since the day I got here, since the day I enlisted. So obviously I’m excited for this year but nothing has changed.” Really this whole season.”
Shanahan made the statement on Tuesday, the day the Niners announced the start of this year’s training camp. And while it had long been expected that Lance was willing to step in as a start, Shanahan had previously refused to say so in such particular terms.
But with the arrival of boot camp and the impending departure of current rookie Jimmy Garoppolo, who passed a physical examination while recovering from right shoulder surgery, no one had much reason to postpone the inevitable.
After taking all the reps with primary attack in the offseason program, Lance arrived at this camp knowing the job was for him and that every practice is an opportunity to prepare to lead a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
For now, the Niners’ goal is to bolster the basics of Shanahan’s attack before heading towards some of the additional skills – like running – that Lance brings to the table.
“There are some plays you just have to be good at to be successful in this league and get the ball moving,” Shanahan said. “Then what could Trey do differently than we had? I think Trey is a threat to run away at any time, so knowing he’s a threat to run at any time, that definitely changes things. That gives another element that defenses have to worry about.”
The first two days of Lance’s training came off as a sure start with some twists and turns. On Wednesday, he took 16 shots in team practice, which was mostly working out of the pocket and appeared to be in control as he completed 5 of 7 passes during team practice.
On Thursday, Lance had a few hiccups, including an interception he really threw to free Jimmy Ward’s safety and two misses to unlock goals that fell incomplete. Lance was delighted with how the attack bounced back, drawing huge cheers from the fans when he pushed for a long distance down the left sideline and again when he found receiver Brandon Ayok between two defenders late in the session.
Despite the errors, Lance said he felt Thursday was better than Wednesday, although he acknowledged the spins had to stop (the offense had three more interceptions in addition to Lance’s).
If nothing else, Lance can move forward with confidence knowing that he is free to make mistakes and learn from them without looking over his shoulder.
“Last year I’ve definitely been in a different place mentally, I’d say,” Lance said. “Just feeling more confident this year knowing what I’m doing, knowing the offense better, knowing the players a lot better, and being around this organization and the coaching staff for a year, I think would be a great thing.”
As for Garoppolo, he has been in the building and continues his throwing program but is not attending training as the Niners are looking for a business partner for him. Lance said he saw Garoppolo on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Nothing at all strange,” Lance said. “I’ve never had anything bad to say about Jimmy. He’s been a big brother to me since the day I came in and he could have made things hell for me last year. He didn’t. He helped me with everything, so I’m excited So excited to see him get healthy, I’m so excited to see him throw up again and so excited to see what he’s doing.”