George Kittle, 49ers vets gush over how Trey Lance will improve offense

With Trey Lance poised to take over under center this season, the 49ers’ offense will have a new look and feel.

It’s something his teammates certainly are excited about, and a trio of San Francisco’s offensive veterans — Trent Williams, Kyle Juszczyk and George Kittle — gushed to KNBR’s “Papa & Lund” on Tuesday about the new elements Lance will bring to the playbook.

Kittle said he’s impressed with Lance’s development from last year to now, noting it’s his “favorite thing” about him at the moment. And while Kittle expects the occasional interception to be thrown in practice against the 49ers’ elite defense, Lance’s confidence in taking risks is exciting to the tight end.

But most of all, Kittle is eager to see how Lance’s mobility can impact the offense.

“I think he’s got a ton of ability,” Kittle said. “What we could do with some of the run game stuff, we get into the empty and we can run gap scheme power with him running the football, which you don’t really see a lot of teams doing.

“Hey, you know what’s crazy is if you have Trent Williams, George Kittle, and our interior and Mike McGlinchey running gap scheme power, hey, good luck. I mean, especially if you’re going out against a nickel or a dime defense. Hey, good luck getting blocked, man. Hey, have fun.”

The excitement in Kittle’s voice was audible as he detailed all of the things the 49ers can do with Lance — and it goes beyond his legs.

“He’s also got a cannon,” Kittle said. “He can throw deep balls. He’s just gotten better progressively … and we have a nice 16-day block right there after the third preseason game where we can really refine some stuff and see what we want to do with our offense. And I’m really looking forward to that.”

In Juszczyk’s eyes, Lance’s ability to extend plays with his legs is “really important in today’s NFL.”

“I think in order to be a truly elite quarterback in the NFL — I think outside of Tom Brady, who’s the best to ever do it — you need to be able to extend plays,” Juszczyk said. “I think the highest percentage of explosive plays last season were on broken plays. And so to be able to add that to an offense [where] we feel like we’re really good when we’re in rhythm, and when you have that extra element of not being in rhythm and being able to make plays, I think it can really add a lot.”

Williams, like Kittle, said he sees a difference in Lance this summer compared to last. The All-Pro noted Lance is making great progress on staying in the pocket and going through his reads, rather than relying on his mobility to open up a play.

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“To me, I think that’s the thing that gives us the most confidence in him because he’s actually working on that part of the game,” Williams said. “We all know he can run. We all know he’s mobile. We all know he’s a special talent with the ball in his hand, but the ball moves quicker in the air than it does on the ground.

“So getting him to go through those reads and hit those people and be comfortable with taking his checkdown, living to fight another down, that’s things that he’s doing. I think that’s ultimately what’s going to make him a quarterback that can win a lot of football games.”

With Lance expected to start against the Green Bay Packers during the 49ers’ first preseason game on Friday, fans and the team will get their first look at the 22-year-old as QB1 rather than Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup.

And if Kittle, Juszczyk and Williams’ endorsements hold any weight, there should be plenty to look forward to as the Sept. 11 season opener approaches.

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