Fitness

Debunking (somewhat) comments of 49ers QB ‘arm fitness’

49ers quarterback Trey Lance apparently has an issue with ‘fitness of his arm,’ according to one NFL analyst, but that’s a questionable takeaway.

Of all the things said about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance in recent weeks, months and even years, questioning the ability of his arm certainly wasn’t on the shortlist of complaints.

Well, it is now.

You might have missed this last week. Or maybe you didn’t (it was all over Twitter, largely stemming from Niners fans’ reactions). But former NFL offensive lineman and current CBS Sports HQ analyst Ryan Harris feels as if Lance isn’t progressing as desired, at least based on what he’s heard, and the second-year quarterback may have issues with what he phrased as “arm fitness.”

Check out the full clip below:

Harris later clarified what he meant by “arm fitness” in a follow-up tweet:

Being honest here, Harris probably understands much more about football and quarterbacking than any casual fan, and he cited “players I’ve talked to and coaches I’ve talked to who are at the 49ers” as a source. This isn’t Harris offering up his own opinion, per se.

We’ll dive into that portion of the discussion in another article, but let’s try counterpointing Harris’ report.

 

Trey Lance doesn’t have an issue with ‘arm fatigue’

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the contrary about any sort of arm wear-down. For starters, if you were to go back and look at nearly every pre-2021 NFL Draft scouting report, it would tout Lance’s arm strength, such as this one by Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network:

Easily drives passes downfield, puts air under the ball, and delivers a catchable throw. Gets the ball through tight spots and leads receivers with passes. Sells ball fakes, shows elusiveness, and easily gets outside the pocket to avoid the rush. Loses no velocity throwing on the move and gets rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist.

Subsequently recalling some of Lance’s game film during his rookie-year preseason, fans should remember Lance had a tendency of throwing the ball too hard, which stands in contrast to any claims of such fatigue.

Speaking of game film, this long touchdown pass to wide receiver Deebo Samuel in Week 17 against the Houston Texans where the ball isn’t a high-arching rainbow that dies midair is a perfect example:

If Lance truly had some sort of issue with a live arm, this late-season touchdown pass would have looked a lot different.

 

Where Ryan Harris might have a point about Trey Lance

We can offer up a lot of counterarguments against what Harris said about Lance, but there is an element from the CBS Sports analyst that might have some truth.

Lance only attempted 71 passes his rookie year, stemming from him spending the bulk of 2021 as a backup, so the same size is awfully limited. And it’s important to remember he attempted only 318 passes at the collegiate level, too.

So, in that regard, his arm is likely a little underdeveloped, at least in terms of experience.

Read More: Why Trey Lance takes biggest leap of second-year QBs

However, even that argument is a bit shaky, because it isn’t as if Lance is limited with his throws during practices on a week-to-week basis. Sure, he might not have received all the first-team reps between games, but he would be running the scout team and going up against first-team defenses frequently.

While those throws aren’t in actual game situations, they’re still throws.

Let’s not question whether or not Harris’ opinions are wrong here, and it’s likely he actually heard that from someone close to the organization at some point in 2021.

However, there are far too many signs to suggest this assessment is the correct one.

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