MARSHALL, MINNESOTA - As the 49ers enter a new era with Trey Lance as their starting quarterback, the coach of the small Minnesota high school who watched him grow looks back.
"Trey Lance was obviously one of our top ones we've ever had," said Terry Bahlmann, who coached Lance in High School. "It's just sort of surreal that 10 years ago he was out here in our youth camp and now he's a starting quarterback in the NFL."
Lance was a standout athlete at Marshall Senior High School, the single high school in a town of around 13,000 people. Tiger football is a big deal in this small town.
"There's not a lot to do in Marshall on Friday nights, so people come out and support all activities. Football is the one on Friday night, sometimes with a crowd as big as 5,000 people," Bahlmann said. "Our away games are 2-3 hours, and a lot of times we travel with 1,000 people to away games."
As a teenager in a Tiger uniform, Lance made Marshall proud. He led the team to three state tournaments.
"We knew we had a great football player then," Bahlmann said. "We didn't know how great at the time, but people knew he was a special player."
Bahlmann described Lance as an outstanding leader, incredibly dedicated, and the best kind of teammate.
"He was always very receptive to his teammates and willing to help them out," he said. "The leadership every game, he was always there. You knew you could always count on Trey."
In 2018, Lance won the "Bud Rose" senior athletic award at Marshall Senior High School.
"He was an outstanding basketball player for us, too," he said.
Speaking to Lance's athletic prowess, Bahlmann says the 49ers are starting a new chapter with a special player. As for his character, he says the Niners have a good man in Trey Lance.
"He's going to be the face of the franchise. He's never going to embarrass the program. He's going to give you everything he has from a time commitment and personality wise. He's true to his beliefs and faith. He's just a solid person that people want their kids to be like," he said. "As he grows, he'll give back and people will just appreciate everything he does."
He already is giving back in Marshall, says Bahlmann.
"He's got a Trey Lance scholarship now for a senior going to college," he said.
Ahead of Lance's first season as the 49ers starting quarterback, Bahlmann shared his words of wisdom for Lance.
"Just block out the noise, be Trey, have fun, and do your thing. That's the advice I'd give him," he said.
Even though Lance is making it big in the Bay, back in Marshall, Bahlmann says he'll always be Trey.
"It's still pretty surreal," he said. "I wish Trey good luck. San Francisco is going to enjoy watching Trey grow."
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