San Francisco 49ers fans are holding fast to the fact that one elite NFL quarterback started the way Trey Lance has: Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano wrote those words back in 2018, right before the Buffalo Bills drafted Allen with the No. 7 overall pick.
Even then, everyone could see the raw talent Allen possessed, but few truly envisioned the success Allen would see in just a few seasons.
This spring, Allen revisited the mean tweets published when the Bills selected him, as Bills fans called the franchise idiotic and cursed.
“I have no words. I’m beyond disappointed,” one Bills fan tweeted.
It’s hilarious to see Allen read these tweets today, because he and his team are already Super Bowl favorites. Allen catapulted the Bills — a historically tormented franchise, in all fairness — to a Divisional Round showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs. This year, it’s Allen’s year.
Which is why San Francisco 49ers fans are striving to find similarities between Allen and their own young quarterback, Trey Lance.
In each of their third NFL starts respectively, both Allen and Lance share strikingly similar stat lines. Kyle Madson, an editor at The Niners Wire, also compared data from Lance’s first two games as well as Allen’s first two games.
“I think the numbers are interesting and a good reminder not to get caught up in them,” wrote Madson.
49ers fans seek to prove Trey Lance could be the next Josh Allen
Lance and Allen do have one thing in common in their first few starts besides the stats: they entered the NFL relatively unproven.
That is the way Allen was seen coming out of Wyoming, hence Graziano’s statement. Truthfully, Allen did have work to do when he entered the league, and he has improved upon the critiques he’s faced about his accuracy.
It makes sense that 49ers fans are hoping the same is true for Lance.
Yet in his second NFL season, with Jimmy Garoppolo on the bench and Lance coming off an abysmal Week 1 performance, the situation is markedly different. Before the 2022 season, Lance had 389 pass attempts since high school — that’s fewer than the 521 pass attempts Mac Jones had in his rookie NFL season alone. Allen was unproven after 27 games in Wyoming and 10 at Reedley College. Lance played 19, his NFL tape coming from an award-winning freshman campaign.
But just as it was too soon to pass judgment on Allen, the same can be said for Lance. Fans and analysts can maintain their beliefs based on what they see and don’t see on tape, but as the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman noted, no one is quite there yet at 22 years old.
Allen wasn’t, and everyone can see how that turned out. The same could be true for Lance, but the message here is that Niners fans need not panic after Week 1 or maybe even Year 1. If Lance is San Francisco’s future, he will get there on his own time.
Just like the Bills fan who tweeted “Wrong Josh!” when the Bills took Allen over Josh Rosen. Yet another reminder that early hot takes have the tendency to crash and burn over time.