George Kittle sings praises of Trey Lance in 49ers OTAs: ‘Trey looks noticeably better’

It’s another NFL offseason.

That means it’s another offseason of quarterback mayhem in San Francisco.

The 49ers are in the middle of the OTAs as presumptive 2023 starter Brock Purdy recovers from elbow surgery. In the meantime, 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance shares first-team reps alongside offseason acquisition Sam Darnold.

According to tight end George Kittle, Lance looks a lot more like a first-round pick than before.

“I’m not going to lie to you guys,” Kittle said Tuesday in a media interview. “I think Trey is looking significantly better than last year. I really mean it. His confidence is there. He throws some really good passes. …

“He knocks people over once in a while. Hey, that’s what it is; he’s still learning and stuff. But, just looking at him, he looks so much more comfortable in the pocket I really appreciate that from him of all the work that he’s put into it….He just looks comfortable there. He just looks like he’s having fun.

There are a few schools of thought here. Kittle is genuinely optimistic about Lance and his chances of returning to the starting job that was once presumed to be his – eventually – when he was selected with the No. 3 pick in 2021. Or he just takes the line of business and inflates Lance’s trade value. Either way, it makes sense that Kittle would sing Lance’s praises. There really isn’t a downside to doing this.

George Kittle and Trey Lance made a connection in the 49ers OTAs.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

George Kittle and Trey Lance made a connection in the 49ers OTAs. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Head coach Kyle Shanahan remained mostly coy about his thoughts on the quarterback situation, but highlighted Purdy’s performance in 2022 and his progress in recovering from UCL surgery in time to be installed for week 1.

“We’re hoping for Week 1, and I’m pretty optimistic about that,” Shanahan said in May. “That’s what we’re hoping he’ll be ready to play in Week 1, and that doesn’t usually mean that’s his return day.

“Usually you have to come before that to achieve that goal and that’s kind of the goal we’re hoping for, and we have no reason to think otherwise.”

Purdy came on and got the job at the end of last season. Lance, meanwhile, never really had a chance to win it. He was a draft when San Francisco drafted him and sat behind Jimmy Garoppolo as a rookie. Given the reins of his second campaign, he broke his ankle on his second start, giving up the job to Garoppolo. Then came Purdy, who was one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in the second half of the season after replacing an injured Garoppolo.

It was a revelation for the seventh-round rookie who was selected with the final pick of the 2022 draft. But a UCL injury in the NFC Championship Game plunged the 49ers back into the chaos and uncertainty they faced. are facing today.

Quarterback issues aside, the 49ers look like a Super Bowl contender again, with multi-position strength on both sides of the ball. But Purdy’s health and recovery remain a question mark. And Lance is impressive in OTAs. If and until Lance is traded, speculation surrounding the 49ers quarterback’s situation will continue to swirl.

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