Trey Lance 1 of Peter King’s Top Influential People in the 2022 NFL Season

Trey Lance is the most important 49er in the 2022 season. The second-year signal caller’s importance this year extends beyond the Bay Area. NBC Sports’ Peter King made him No. 17 on his list of the 22 most influential people in the 2022 NFL season.

The combination of Lance’s skill set in Kyle Shanahan’s offense offers fascinating potential that could have a ripple effect for the NFL over the years. Shanahan has put together very good offenses as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach, but he never had a quarterback as physically gifted as Lance. If the marriage works, San Francisco could be a dangerous Super Bowl contender for a long time.

That potential with an already good 49ers defense is why Lance lands on King’s list as his first year as a starting quarterback, but the long-time NFL writer cautioned against setting expectations too high out of the gate:

I just want to keep the football world in mind about Trey Lance: He’s 22. He threw 318 passes in his college career, at a level below the top level of college football, at North Dakota State. And he played sparkly as a rookie in San Francisco. He needs time to develop, to make mistakes, to make dumb throws, to not have a decision passed on him after a three-interception game in Week 3.

A reminder: As a rookie with the Colts in 1998, Peyton Manning threw 3, 3, 2 and 3 interceptions in his first four games. After four games, he’d thrown three touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The world survived. Remember that, Niner fans.

San Francisco would be thrilled if Lance winds up putting together a career, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be that bad out of the gate.

Manning was drafted by an abominable Colts club that went 3-13 the year before he arrived and 3-13 during his rookie year. The onus was on him to turn the Colts around.

Lance is falling into a much better situation. He’s stepping into a starting QB job on a team that went to the NFC championship game last season. While that puts some added pressure on him to win, the team doesn’t need him to be the offensive focal point. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Lance leads the NFL in pass attempts and interceptions.

To be sure, there will be ups and downs for the first-time starter. No quarterback steps in that job and finds perfection right away. There will be some multi-interception games, some head-scratching throws and overall bad outings. But if all that culminates in the synergy between Shanahan and Lance, he’ll find himself one of the two or three most influential people in every NFL season.

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