How Mahomes helped Lance make ‘substantial jump’ after workout. Lance worked out with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes in April, and apparently, his throwing motion afterward significantly improved.
QB coach Jeff Christensen worked closely with Lance at the start of the offseason and, after a lengthy recovery following a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 of the 2022 season, told The Athletic’s Matt Barrows that Lance’s “biggest breakthrough” came while working alongside Mahomes last month.
“I said, ‘Watch this. Watch what he does here,’” Christensen told Barrows as he remembered the conversation with Lance. “It was something I was telling him to do that he wasn’t quite doing. And then he saw Patrick apply it perfectly. And I think that visual buy-in, that mental buy-in, helped him past that mental hump.”
“And to his credit, he just kept getting better,” he continued. “[Over] the last seven days, every day was a substantial jump.”
After the 49ers traded up and gave up three first-round picks to select Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance’s start to his NFL career hasn’t gone quite as planned.
The 23-year-old broke his right index finger in San Francisco’s 2021 preseason finale and, according to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, it wasn’t fully healed in 2022. Lance had to “completely change” his grip and it took him a while to adjust.
While trying to fully recover from his finger injury, the young quarterback sustained the Week 2 ankle injury, which required two separate surgeries and a long journey back to recovery that still continues.
But heading into his third season with the 49ers, his finger and ankle no longer are a problem.
“He was able to get such a better base in these last two months that I think Trey is the best that we’ve [seen] him right now,” Shanahan said earlier this month. “Yeah, we’ve got to get into OTAs and practice, but when you watch his feet, his timing, how he’s throwing the ball, he’s in such a better place now than he was last year at this time.”
On top of a restructured throwing motion, Christensen also pointed out an important area of improvement that previously was looked at as a growing concern.
Christensen told Barrows that when the two first started working together in early March, Lance’s arm would become sore and tender after a couple days and Lance would need to take a day off for rest and treatment, adding that shouldn’t happen to quarterbacks who have the “right technique.”
But after their time together, Christensen noticed significant progress. He told Barrows that after a high-intensity session where Lance threw 150 footballs, Lance went back home to the Bay Area that night expecting to be in pain the next day, as he typically would.
“And I called him in ’Frisco on Saturday at noon,” Christensen told Barrows. “And he thought for sure his arm would be killing him. And I said, ‘OK, how’s your arm?’ He said, ‘I cannot believe I woke up and it was not sore at all.’”
In response to if Lance has experienced any type of soreness issues since the 49ers offseason program, “zero,” Christensen said.
Christensen, who has coached nearly 200 college and NFL quarterbacks, says Lance reminds him most of Mahomes in terms of his competitiveness and demeanor, which is one of the reasons why he had the two work out together last month.
“He really fit right in,” Christensen said. “Pat really thinks the world of him. He’s just a really good person, conscientious. He wants to be great. And he’s one of the few kids whose actions match his words. He backs it up. He shows up every day and he wants to learn. And that’s why I teach him.”
While acknowledging that there’s still work to do with Lance, Christensen said that’s normal with any quarterback who constantly focus on tweaking and improving their technique.
“It’s a constant battle,” he said. “Where he wound up on the last day — he was 25 percent ahead of where I thought he’d be,” he said.
Lance’s recovery has been as much mental as it is physical, and Christensen can’t wait to see Lance’s full potential unlocked under Shanahan’s system.
“With his play calling and this kid’s upside and ability, I think he can be incredible,” he said.