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49ers QB Trey Lance made 'substantial jump' after working with Patrick Mahomes in offseason

The quarterback situation in San Francisco is poised to be one of the more focused storylines during training camp this summer. 49ers QB Trey Lance has taken the necessary measures this offseason to ensure he's ready to potentially reclaim his starting role.

Lance's offseason efforts included the hiring of Jeff Christensen, a private QB coach whose services are also sought by the likes of Patrick Mahomes. Christensen told The Athletic's Matt Burrows this week that Lance had a breakthrough moment while watching Mahomes work on his trade.

"I said, 'Watch this. Watch what he does here,'" Christensen said. "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."

Lance finds himself in a precarious spot entering Year 3. The former No. 3 overall pick's first season as a starter ended in Week 2 after suffering a fractured ankle, and Brock Purdy's remarkable play in relief has Lance on the outside looking in after 2022's "Mr. Irrelevant" led the well-rounded 49ers to the NFC Championship Game.

As it stands today, Purdy is expected to maintain the starting role in 2023 despite a serious elbow injury that has prevented him from throwing so far this offseason. Now fully recovered from the two surgeries needed to repair his injured ankle, Lance has been preparing himself for opportunity's knock and has been blocking out any of the outside noise.

One point of emphasis for Lance this offseason was retooling his throwing motion, an effort to improve the subpar completion percentage (54.9%) he's produced in eight games played. Lance's eagerness to learn and improve has impressed Christensen, who has coached nearly 200 college and NFL QBs over his career. The sought-after coach said Lance reminds him of Mahomes in terms of competitiveness and demeanor, which is why he wanted the QBs to train together for some sessions.

"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."

With the 49ers set to begin organized team activities next week, Lance is presumed to take the lead as Purdy continues his recovery. Sam Darnold, an offseason signing that provides the 49ers great depth at QB, should bring a competitive environment for Lance and it may set the table for another during training camp.

As 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan prepares to ready his well-oiled offense for a seventh time, Christensen believes Lance has what it takes to flourish if given the opportunity.

"With his play-calling and this kid's upside and ability, I think he can be incredible," he said of Lance.

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