Trey Lance injury update could change his future prospects with 49ers

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

An injury San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance suffered back in 2021 never fully healed, and he had to play through it last season.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation might be the most interesting in the entire league. Last year, Trey Lance suffered a broken ankle, Jimmy Garoppolo stepped in until breaking his foot, leading to “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy entering the fray. Purdy impressed the league, but suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow, leading to doubt entering the 2023 season.

So, the 49ers will have Purdy, Lance and Sam Darnold, who Shanahan can’t speak more highly of, in their quarterbacks room. But is there concern about Lance?

While speaking at the Dwight Clark Legacy Series event, head coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that the hairline fracture in his right index finger that Lance had suffered back in the 2021 preseason never healed properly and that Lance was throwing in 2022 without a bent finger. Not only that, but Lance had to change his grip to deal with the injury.

Trey Lance’s finger injury suffered in 2021 never fully healed last season

“He spent a whole year throwing without a bent finger which changed everything and shows the toughness of the kid that he never complained about it,” Shanahan said, h/t NBC Sports Bay Area. “He tried to adjust so he could be out there.”

Even though this does sound concerning, Shanahan did say that the injury has healed up properly now, and said that Lance is in “a much better place.”

“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. “Yeah, we 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.”

Lance had a lot of expectations upon entering the NFL. The 49ers traded a bunch of draft capital to move up to the No. 3 spot in the 2021 NFL Draft to select him. Lance didn’t start in his rookie season, as the team was still behind Garoppolo as starter for one more season. But when he finally got his chance, he had to deal with the aforementioned finger injury.

In Week 1, Lance struggled against the Chicago Bears, which can be attributed to the rainy weather and subpar field conditions. But in Week 2, Lance ran out of the pocket and got tackled, which caused his ankle to break. That effectively ended his season.

Now, Lance will be looking to give it another go to prove that he was the right selection for the 49ers after all. He could get a chance, especially if Purdy isn’t deemed good to go for the start of the season. But when it comes to quarterback battles to follow, the 49ers are easily at the top.

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