Quarterback Trey Lance will be the most-scrutinized player during 49ers training camp in Santa Clara this summer.
Lance's completion percentages in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills will be widely reported. And for the next 24 hours, judgments will be made whether he has what it takes to experience success as the team’s starter.
Then, there will be another day of practice, leading to another set of meaningless stats and evaluations from onlookers.
The three preseason games — assuming he plays in all three — will provide a larger audience with a small sample size to form their own opinions.
In the end, none of it really matters.
The first test begins Sunday, Sept. 11, when the 49ers open the regular season against the Chicago Bears.
The examination will continue every week for as long as Lance remains in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers
The offseason could not have gone much better for Lance. He looked and acted like the team’s starting quarterback. Many of his teammates spoke about his worthiness of being promoted to his new prominent role.
The 49ers began their efforts to trade Jimmy Garoppolo shortly after the club’s season ended with a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.
During the final week of the 49ers’ offseason program last month, coach Kyle Shanahan stated he still anticipates a trade to send Garoppolo elsewhere.
Clearly, Shanahan believes Lance is ready to be a starter. The club would not be so eager to trade Garoppolo if there were any reservations about turning the keys over to the second-year player.
So what do the 49ers want to see from Lance during training camp?
There does not seem to be much concern about Lance’s ability to serve in a leadership role — even at the age of 22.
So much of being a starting quarterback in the NFL comes down to how a player communicates and manages relationships with his coaches and teammates.
In those areas, Lance appears to be a 10 out of 10. There are no concerns about the level of effort he is going to be devote to working at his craft.
The other area where he can show he is ready to help the 49ers win games is demonstrating a command of the offense.
With some uncertainty about the interior of the 49ers’ offensive line, Lance must gain an ability to be decisive and know where he’s going with the football.
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, who has spent time with Lance this offseason, said he is confident Lance will be able to make quick decisions which receiver to target with his throws — depending on the play call and the defense.
“I have 100 percent confidence that Trey will figure out where to throw it,” Young said.
“The challenge for Trey is once he knows, then how to deliver it, and that's another great talent that you have to have and develop."
Lance will have to gain confidence in practices that he is making the correct decisions. When he hits the back of his drop, the ball must come out. Yes, he has great running skills, but his scrambling should be saved for games — and as a last resort.
His accuracy will improve as he becomes more comfortable in the offense and with his decision-making. If the ball is coming out quickly during practices, that will be a good sign for Lance and the 49ers.