Comparisons between Bills quarterback Josh Allen and 49ers QB Trey Lance aren’t uncommon. They’re big, mobile, big-armed quarterbacks who entered the league with question marks about their accuracy. Whether the comparison is apt remains to be seen, but 49ers wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud connected the two players in a different way.
Allen is one of the MVP favorites in the NFL this season after growing leaps and bounds over his four years in the NFL, so setting a bar that high out of the gate for Lance may not be fair. McCloud pointed to something perhaps more important than on-field production for Lance in his first year as a starter.
“Every day he’s getting better, learning how to be a leader,” McCloud said in a press conference Tuesday. “Not even learning, he has it already. It’s a natural thing with him. I came in with (Bills QB) Josh Allen and the Bills, and he gives me that same type of energy. That, ‘I’m ready to take the next step,’ energy. I wasn’t with him last year, but that second year is kind of a difference … Just watching Trey every day grow as a leader, and be able to take control of not just the the huddle, the offense as a whole. When we’re going through walk-throughs and making sure everybody’s where they need to be at a certain time. It’s great watching him practice.”
McCloud was with Allen and the Bills for just one season when both players were rookies in 2018. That was maybe the most important year for Allen though. He didn’t start in Week 1 and had to take the starting job in Week 2 while jumping through hoops created by the limitations of his accuracy. The fact he established himself as a leader through adversity says a lot about him as a player.
This was one of the biggest question marks for Lance when the club tabbed him the starter and moved on from veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Would Lance be able to step into a leadership role as a second-year player? And would he have enough of the offense down to really grab the reins?
Game situations will ultimately tell the story, but so far McCloud’s answer gives a resounding ‘yes’ answer to both questions.
There may not be anything with a bigger impact on Lance’s success as a first-time starter than how he handles things that don’t happen between the lines. Growing pains on the field are expected, but those can be corrected. A bad read, a bad throw – those are physical mishaps that can be ironed out through practice and experience.
Leadership isn’t something that can be worked on in offseason workouts. It’s mostly a natural skill. Allen has used it to improve into an MVP candidate who is beloved by his teammates on a club that went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs in Kansas City during the divisional playoffs last year. Whether Lance’s physical tools will get him there remains a question, but it appears any consternation over him as a leader is subsiding quickly.