After two offseasons with Trey Lance, 49ers tight end George Kittle has seen enough to declare that his team’s young quarterback does not stink.

Kittle spoke to reporters about Lance’s improvement during his pre-training camp media session on Tuesday. The Pro Bowl tight end said Lance has made noticeable strides since joining the 49ers as a first-round pick in 2021, and that he’ll continue to make more as the season progresses.

“He’s gotten better,” Kittle told reporters on Tuesday. “I can see that. I’m not going to lie to you guys—he has gotten better. If he stunk, I’d tell you guys he stunk. He doesn’t. But he’s gotten better and he’s going to continue to progress. I think the more games that Trey plays, the better he’s going to get. It’s just going to be up to us to be around him and help him out as best we can.”

Despite Lance’s improvement, there’s still an expectation for him to have some occasional growing pains as he embarks on his first full season as an NFL starter. But Kittle expects he and the other team’s talented veterans will be in a position to help Lance out of bad situations.

“We need to do our best to make it as easy as we can for Trey,” Kittle said. “While there’s going to be ups and downs, we need to play at a high enough level where if Trey has a game where he throws a couple picks, it is what it is and we’re going to be playing well enough to win those games.”

Kittle will also be able to help Lance on a day-to-day basis by helping him stay in the right mindset.

“Just talk to him, make sure to keep his head clear and just continue to encourage him,” Kittle said. “Football’s a kid’s game at the end of the day. There’s a lot of confusing aspects to it and there’s a lot of confusing parts of our offense, but Trey’s a hell of an athlete. He’s got his head on right, so just continue to talk to him every single day and encourage him to throw me the football.”

And maybe Lance will help Kittle add some things to his game as well. Kittle is looking forward to Lance’s ability to improvise and make off-schedule plays, which could help his window of receiving opportunity increase more often from around five seconds to ten. If Lance gives Kittle those extra seconds, Kittle expects to be able to do something positive with them.

“It’s hard to cover someone for ten seconds,” Kittle said. “I feel like I can get open from someone in ten seconds. I think Trey’s going to be able to do that a lot.”

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