How Lance handled finger injury showed 49ers franchise QB traits


It is well known that Trey Lance dealt with a finger injury during his rookie season with the 49ers.

Lance chipped a bone in his right pointer finger during San Francisco’s third and final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders last August.

Instead of griping, Lance handled the injury with grace and contributed as he could, giving the organization another sign that the North Dakota State product contained franchise quarterback qualities.

“I was blown away with the way he handled that, finding a way to get out there and get better every day,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “And it was hard because of that finger, and it wasn’t always pretty. That’s the finger you throw a football with, and he didn’t have that. It was compromised. It led to some bad habits. But he still found a way to get better, to support Jimmy [Garoppolo], to be a great teammate and earn the respect of our guys.”

As Lynch alluded, the finger injury greatly affected Lance's ability to throw the football. But the quarterback would not make excuses.

“Yeah, he didn’t want to talk about the finger,” Lance’s mechanics coach Adam Dedeaux said to Breer. “Because he may not have been thinking this is the problem. But his arm took a beating.”

“I didn’t really know how much it was affecting me until we were getting into the season,” Lance said of his finger. “Every week kind of got harder. And I was working on it, I knew obviously it was broken. It didn’t feel good. But I wanted to play. I wanted at least to have an opportunity to be ready and be the two, whatever my role was [going to be] that year. So yeah, I took care of it the best that I could. But there’s just kind of only so much you can do.”

Lance showed the 49ers that he was battle-tested by handling the finger injury like a professional. He exhibited it again on Jan. 2 in his second career start against the Houston Texans.

Leading up to that game, the 49ers were clinging to their playoff hopes after losing to the Tennessee Titans the previous week. With Garoppolo nursing a thumb sprain, Lance was given the reins of the 49ers' offense. 

San Francisco entered halftime trailing Houston 7-3. But Lance had four scoring drives in the second half and finished the contest with 249 passing yards and two scores, cruising to a much-needed 23-7 victory.

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"We ended up easily winning the game, and that was kind of when, 'Alright, this guy can overcome adversity,' " coach Kyle Shanahan said to Breer. "We know he has the ability.

"It’s a matter of time for this guy."

Lance's time as the 49ers' starting quarterback is quickly approaching. The 49ers have one final preseason game scheduled for Thursday against the Texans before they officially begin preparations for Week 1 against the Chicago Bears.

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