Sights and sounds as 49ers’ Trey Lance, rookies debut on field for minicamp

SANTA CLARA — Seeing Trey Lance in person, after hearing Bunyan-esque tales of his exploits in the Upper Midwest, brought stark reality to the 49ers’ quarterback situation.

Lance looked smooth and laser accurate in his No. 5, black jersey.

“I’ve gotten past the point where it’s surreal. It’s work now,” Lance said Friday as rookie minicamp began. “(Wearing a 49ers jersey) was cooler after the draft. Right now it’s my job, and I’m excited to get to work.”

Drafted No. 3 overall two weeks ago with the 49ers’ highly leveraged first-round-draft pick, Lance debuted on the 49ers’ practice field Friday, doing so for a rookie minicamp that’s a mere prelude to a potentially franchise-altering career.

His onboarding is officially underway, and, come next week, he will fall in with Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ veterans as the offseason program ramps up with on-field drills.

Lance was the only quarterback in Friday’s session, and he completed his first 12 passes in 7-on-7 action, most of which came on short throws but he did nail a 15-yard dart over the middle in early action.

Lance met Garoppolo earlier this week along with the 49ers’ three other quarterbacks — Josh Rosen, Josh Johnson and Nate Sudfeld. Said Lance: “They’re awesome, awesome personalities, great guys to hang around and great football players.” Garoppolo welcomed Lance on draft night, April 29, with a text referring to their respective Football Championship Subdivision backgrounds at Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State, respectively.

Lance wasn’t glaringly rusty as quarterback coach Rich Scangarello talked him through early drills. Lance played only one game last fall for a North Dakota State program he led on an undefeated run in 2019 to the FCS national championship.

He certainly hasn’t been sitting idle. Aside from pre-draft preparations that included pro-day auditions, Lance more recently worked out with a private coach in Orange County, and did so last week with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers’ leading receiver last season as a rookie.

”It was awesome to get a little work in with him and get to know him a little bit,” Lance said.

Friday’s practice took place under sunny skies and 70-degree weather that is common in Santa Clara, but quite a contrast to the elements Lance endured first as a high school star in Marshall, Minnesota and then at NDSU in Fargo, North Dakota, where long-sleeved clothing wasn’t an option.

“You’re not allowed to wear sleeves, no leggings and so you’re suffering in blizzards,” Lance recalled. “That’s the way it is. If you’re wearing sleeves, the seniors will rip them off with no hesitation. It’s part of the initiation.”

He’s got some familiar company as he gets initiated into the NFL ranks, aside from training with Aiyuk and Richie James Jr. in Orange County.

Running back Trey Sermon, a third-round pick, worked out before the draft with Lance at EXOS Pensacola in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

“He’s a good dude and I know he’s a hard worker,” Sermon said. “Just from training with him in Pensacola at EXOS, I’ve seen since then how hard he works and tries to be the best he can be.”


As thick as Kyle Shanahan’s offensive playbook can be, neither Lance, Sermon (No. 28) nor guard Aarom Banks (No. 62) flinched at their initial impressions of it. Lance wouldn’t say what percentage he’s learned but that he’s getting comfortable with a “chunk” this minicamp.

”Obviously it’s an NFL playbook so it’s going to be a lot but I’ve been waiting to learn a new playbook the last seven or eight months,” Lance said. “It was a ton of fun to finally be able to get into it.”

“We had a pretty big playbook at Notre Dame. They did a great job preparing us for the playbooks to this caliber,” Banks said. “I didn’t think anything given to me is where I’ve looked at it and said, ‘That’s too much and I’d have a hard time learning.’ “

Said Sermon: “It hasn’t been too difficult just making the transition. Some is similar to Ohio State. My acclimation will be pretty smooth.”


Deommodore Lenoir, a fifth-round cornerback, intercepted a Lance pass in one-on-one action. Lenoir returned his theft to the end zone and got rewarded with a hug from new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Linebacker Jonas Griffith and safety Talanoa Hufanga made pass breakups in one-on-one action.


Lance has cheered on Santa Clara University’s women’s soccer team on its recent wins to reach the NCAA College Cup. What’s the connection? “One of my QB coaches, Quincy Avery, is good friends with the head coach (Jerry Smith),” Lance began. “I watched (Santa Clara) by chance when I turned on the TV and saw the game against Clemson. I’m super excited for them. And the win over UNC was exciting as well.”

The Broncos posted a good luck message from Lance on Twitter on Wednesday, which was a good luck (other than Lance wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers cap).


Cornerback Ambry Thomas (No. 41) is taking an admirable approach as the Michigan native adjusts to the pricey Bay Area and California’s income tax.  “I feel like my play will take care of my pockets,” Thomas said.

That confidence is also reflected in Thomas’ description of how his 6-foot frame will adapt to the NFL, after opting out his senior year at Michigan. “I’ve got speed and I’m long and with the defense we run if I’m at nickel or cornerback, I can make plays on the ball,” Thomas said. “Once I get used to the whole playbook, it’s over, it’s over.”


Banks, the 49ers’ second-round draft pick, posted a picture of him signing his contract (four years, $7 million) on Instagram where his fitting handle is “@_banksofamerica.”

Only Lance, Thomas and running back Trey Sermon were unsigned draft picks through Thursday’s close of business. Signed were Banks, guard Jaylon Moore, cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, safety Talanoa Hufanga and running back Elijah Mitchell.

Only five undrafted free agents were signed: linebackers Justin Hilliard and Elijah Sullivan, wide receiver Austin Watkins Jr., tight end Josh Pederson, and offensive tackle Alfredo Gutierrez, the latter being a Mexico native who arrived via the NFL’s international program and has a roster exemption.


Former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee was among the five maximum veterans trying out, having opted out last year after missing the previous two seasons with a knee injury. Also auditioning were safety Blake Countess, tight end Alex Ellis and cornerbacks Adonis Alexander and KiAnte Harden. Countess drew a $48,000 fine for an illegal hit on Marquise Goodwin in the 2017 finale at the Los Angeles Rams.


Considering how ravaged the 49ers were by injuries in recent seasons, it was cringing to hear the practice field speakers blare Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” as Lance began throwing to receivers. The bounce-back song: “Paradise City,” by Guns ’N Roses.

Contributed by local news sources

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