Trey Lance: He can run and throw, but he won’t slide.
While the soggy turf at Soldier Field made for a perfect 100-yard slip-and-slide, the 49ers’ young QB refused to go down that way as defenders stormed toward him in the 49ers’ season opener loss to the Chicago Bears last Sunday.
But Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who is also in his second season in the league, sees things very differently.
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While speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Fields said his first instinct is to glide to avoid the hit and emphasized he will almost always slide before getting ransacked.
Fields even added a conversation with Lance to his to-do list after seeing how many times he got tackled down.
“I got to talk to my boy, Trey. I think he was taking too many hits out there,” Fields said. “I try to not take hits at all, to be honest with you unless the game’s on the line … That’s really the only time I’m taking a hit. Other than that I’m pretty much going to slide. For all the defenders out there that think I’m going to stay up, I’m not so don’t worry about getting those late hits on me.”
While also talking to reporters before practice on Wednesday about some of the biggest differences between college and the pros, Lance acknowledged that defenders are much “bigger, faster and stronger” than him and can catch up quickly.
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He added that it’s important for him to learn how to protect himself and stay healthy as he’s now tasked with the QB1 role as a 22-year-old.
Still, Lance didn’t back down on his stance about taking hits.
“On Sunday, I feel like I protected myself pretty well. [I] felt good for the most part,” Lance said, confidently. “When I’m running between tackles and stuff or running on third down, I’m not ever going to slide and just give up on the play and send our defense on the field if it’s a situation like that.”
On Sunday, Lance led the team with 54 rushing yards on 13 carries, while Deebo Samuel had 52 yards on eight carries with a touchdown.
The 49ers picked up more first downs than the Bears and converted 47 percent of their third-down attempts, going 8-for-17. Lance was able to move the chains with his dual-threat abilities -- five times with his legs and three times via passes to receiver Jauan Jennings (twice) and tight end Ross Dwelley.
Of course, Lance still has a lot to learn as Week 2 nears and the 49ers get ready to welcome their rival, the Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday to Levi’s Stadium, but his fearlessness and confidence in himself at such a young age will continue to separate him from others.