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What 49ers QB Trey Lance has in common with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott
San Jose Mercury News - 5/26/2023
SANTA CLARA — Not only is this the first season Trey Lance feels fully healthy from a physical standpoint, but the 23-year-old has made significant strides with his mental health, too.
Speaking at OTAs on Tuesday, the 49ers third-year quarterback revealed he’s been working with a mental health professional to keep his mind right. Asked if the person was a sports psychologist, Lance said, “Something like that. It wasn’t provided by the team, but someone that someone knew for the team. But it wasn’t unique to me, like, ‘You need to go meet with somebody, you’re sad.’ I’m pretty positive. But it’s helped me a lot and I’m thankful to be here.”
Lance said meeting with a professional has kept him present, especially amidst an offseason in which he was recovering from ankle surgery and refining his throwing mechanics after a previous injury to his index finger created some bad habits. Now he faces an unknown role while the 49ers prepare to enter the season with three potential season-opening starting quarterbacks in Lance, Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold.
“I meet with people who help me set my mindset for the day regularly,” Lance said. “For me, it’s just being able to find ways to live in the moment. I think that’s one big thing I’ve focused on this year, as well as realizing how blessed I am to be in this position.
“I say it every single day, I play in the NFL. Hopefully the plan is for me to get on the field this year and really get this thing started. But gratitude is what I bring everything to. Bringing everything back into perspective.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Lance taking care of his mental health after ESPN’s Adam Schefter previously reported that Lance’s psychological tests for the 49ers were “off the charts” and the 49ers considered him the smartest quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lance isn’t the first NFL quarterback to see a sports psychologist nor will he be the last. Here are a few other notable QBs who have spoken publicly about utilizing mental health services:
In 2020, Brady told the Howard Stern Show that a sports psychologist helped him overcome the difficulties of being a backup to Brian Griese at the University of Michigan before the Patriots took him in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
“It’s a little emotional because it was a very vulnerable time in my life because I was questioning who I was,” Brady told Stern. “I had gone from [growing up in] California to Michigan. I was a long way from home in a different environment.”
The sports psychologist “wasn’t going to let me be a victim” and “had an amazing influence on my life,” Brady said.
In 2021, Rodgers advocated for more open dialogue surrounding sports psychology when he told the New York Times he felt like the NFL was far behind other sports in encouraging the use of mental health services.
“The masculine part of it is difficult, because there’s this idea that we grew up with about what it means to be a man,” Rodgers told the Times. “This idealism that a man doesn’t cry, show weakness, talk about feelings. Until that kind of breaks down in society and we embrace that side of our personality and encourage those conversations, I think the stigma around asking someone for help is going to still be there.”
The former Seahawks quarterback infamously threw an interception to former Patriots corner Malcolm Butler on the goal line, a defining moment in the Seahawks’ loss in Super Bowl XLIX in 2016.
How does one recover from what is widely considered to be one of the worst plays in Super Bowl history? That summer, Wilson started seeing a mental conditioning coach, who needed to remind Wilson that he wasn’t a failure and “decided to show Wilson clips of all of his successful fourth-quarter comebacks over the years,” according to ESPN.
The Cowboys quarterback has been open about his battle with anxiety and depression over the years. The Times reported that he started seeing a psychologist after he was drafted in 2016 and it played a big role in his breakout rookie year, when he led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.
In 2020, Prescott underwent a similar ankle surgery as the one needed by Lance last fall. Since recovering, Prescott has played in 28 games with a passer rating of 99.0 while leading the Cowboys to a 19-9 record.
Lance feels fully recovered from the ankle injury now. He’s constantly reminding himself to stay present. He’s healthy, physically and mentally, and has a chance to compete for the starting job.
“That’s all I wanted,” he said.
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