Trey Lance was greeted with loud cheers when he took the field at Levi's Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers. Lance’s time on the field was brief, but the second-year quarterback demonstrated why 49ers fans are excited to have him and why he’s San Francisco’s undisputed starter at quarterback.
Lance led the Deebo Samuel- and George Kittle-less 49ers on two straight scoring drives. San Francisco’s opening drive stalled after Lance threw a pass a little too high to wide receiver Danny Gray. The 49ers ended up with a field goal. On the ensuing possession, Lance redeemed himself.
On third-and-9 from San Francisco’s own 24-yard line, Lance tossed a deep pass to Gray, hitting the wideout in stride. The speedy receiver raced to the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown reception.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 13, 2022
The long touchdown toss was easily Lance’s best pass of the night and was a superb way to conclude the quarterback’s preseason debut as the 49ers' starting quarterback.
“Solid,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said of Lance after the 28-21 win. “He did some good things. It was a good first game. I wish we would’ve kept him out there more but got to get him out.”
Lance played a total of two series against mostly Green Bay backups. His final stat line was 4-of-5 passing for 92 yards and one touchdown. He also had one rush for 7 yards. He exited the game with a 158.3 passer rating.
“I’m excited to watch it,” Lance said postgame. “I learned a lot. Got some good reps out there.”
Reps are critical for Lance in advance of the regular season. But even in a small sample size Friday night, Lance showed why 49ers brass has been so bullish about him leading up to the 2022 regular season. He showed good pocket awareness, ability to allude pressure, had an elusive 7-yard scramble and threw just one incompletion.
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have been very open about their desire to have Lance lead the franchise at quarterback and are in the process of finding a new team for Lance’s predecessor, Jimmy Garoppolo.
Getting rid of Garoppolo for a quarterback with only 71 career passes to his name is a risk. Garoppolo led the 49ers to Super Bowl 54 and last season’s NFC championship game. But the 49ers feel the reward outweighs the risk.
Lance is younger, more athletic, mobile and possesses a stronger arm. The second-year quarterback has a higher ceiling than Garoppolo. He brings a new dimension to Shanahan’s offense.
The exhibition game provided a glimpse of why the 49ers have confidently given Lance the keys to drive their offense.
“I feel very different. The game has slowed down for sure,” Lance said after the preseason opener. “Obviously it’s just a preseason game, but some good and some bad. I got to learn from it.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trey Lance shows why he is the 49ers' quarterback of the present