49ers legend Steve Young fears Trey Lance ‘could be wasting a year here’

Steve Young sat behind Joe Montana most of his first four years on the 49ers. Then Young started 10 games in 1991, assumed the 16-game role in ‘92 and ultimately saw Montana dealt to the Chiefs in ‘93.

Young doesn’t want to see rookie Trey Lance sit anymore, and if that continues, he at least wants Lance preparing as if he’s the starter.

“First of all, you learn by watching, I get that. But for me, for my career, for me, those were wasted — not wasted — those were lost years,” Young said Wednesday on his weekly KNBR 680-AM segment. “What I learned from watching was amazing. But I didn’t need those years.

“I look at those, maybe one year to kind of really get a handle on things. But those were lost years for me. That’s not for a lack of trying and doing everything I can. I so much wanted to play that I went through the discipline every week of preparing to play.”

Aside from five snaps to mop up a Nov. 21 rout at Jacksonville, Lance has not played since his fill-in start for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, when the rookie ran 16 times and emerged with a knee sprain from a 17-10 loss at Arizona on Oct. 10. He played seven snaps in the first two games then 39 upon replacing Garoppolo at halftime of an Oct. 3 loss to Seattle.

The 49ers have not granted interview requests for Lance since the Oct. 10 postgame, so it’s a mystery how exactly he is preparing every week, aside from the brief media windows at practice.

Young’s advice to Lance, heading into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati?

“That’s what I’d say to Trey if he’s listening right now: plan on starting against Cincinnati. Prepare as if, like, literally, it’s happening,” Young said. “You’re going to prepare and study and memorize and go through the rigors and everything you need to do. Turn the TV off Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. ‘I’m going to go through it again and again and again because I’ve got to be ready to play.’ It’s really frustrating, by the way, if Sunday rolls around if you don’t play, then you’ve got to run wind sprints. I’d run wind sprints at the end of the game to get a sweat up to make myself feel like it was worth it.

“With that discipline, you can get better by not playing. And that’s the only way to do it. Otherwise if you’re just wandering and watching and like, ‘Hey, that was interesting,’ screw that. That’s not going to help you. That’s just a waste of time. Trey could be wasting a year here unless he’s digging in to preparing as if he’s going to play.”

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