SANTA CLARA — Quarterback Trey Lance's progress has been easy to identify one week into his third NFL training camp.
"He looks a lot better," 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese said on Wednesday. "There's no question."
The irony is Lance now clearly is better than at any point since he has been with the 49ers. But his spot on the depth chart is being challenged more than ever, too.
Even when Lance was the backup to starter Jimmy Garoppolo as a rookie in 2021, he was used early in the season in specific packages.
Lance accounted for the first 49ers touchdown that season with a 5-yard pass to Trent Sherfield midway through the first quarter of Week 1 against the Detroit Lions.
A year ago, Lance opened the season as the undisputed starter with Garoppolo on the trade market. In camp, Lance struggled with his accuracy due to mechanical issues resulting from a fractured index finger that did not heal properly.
Lance’s second NFL season ended in Week 2 with a fractured lower leg.
San Francisco 49ers
While Lance, 23, clearly is playing well on the practice field, he is behind Brock Purdy on the depth chart. Moreover, he is competing with veteran Sam Darnold for the backup role.
"Now being healthy gives him a platform with which to find his natural rhythm, to find his natural motion and to throw the ball like he did in college," Griese said of Lance.
"I’m really happy he's at that point where he's healthy enough to do that. And now he's put in work on top of that with his motion to give himself a chance to be more accurate."
Through six days of practice this summer, Lance has taken 80 snaps of 11-on-11 work (behind only Purdy’s 88 reps). Lance is completing 65 percent of his pass attempts.
Lance should get plenty of opportunities during the 49ers' three-game preseason schedule, beginning Sunday, Aug. 13, against the Las Vegas Raiders.
"I’m excited about him getting into some of these preseason games and having the positive reinforcement that he can build confidence and continue to do that," Griese said.