Bold trade, bold pick: 49ers swing for the fences with Trey Lance

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — If the San Francisco 49ers wished to play it secure within the 2021 NFL draft, they may have waited to take the participant they appreciated finest with the twelfth decide.

However when the Niners traded that choice, together with two future first-round selections and a third-round decide in 2022, to the Miami Dolphins on March 26, the secure play walked out the door. The 49ers let the world know that they had been prepared to take a danger to get their franchise quarterback.

Within the month that adopted, the Niners had been often related to Alabama’s Mac Jones, the quarterback broadly thought of to have the best ground however the lowest ceiling. It is a transfer that would not have matched the chance of buying and selling as much as No. 3 — equal to moving into the batter’s field and easily seeking to make stable contact after pulling your cleanup hitter.

Because it turned out, the 49ers by no means had any intention of doing something however swinging for the fences.

They mortgaged an enormous chunk of their future with a purpose to take the most important hack doable, touchdown on North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. The method started in January when coach Kyle Shanahan started falling for Lance after watching tape that he then shared with normal supervisor John Lynch. Then Lynch stayed up watching that tape till 2:30 within the morning the identical day. By the point Lynch and Shanahan went to Lance’s second professional day earlier this month, the Niners’ two main decision-makers had been smitten.

Welcome to the Trey Space.

“We had been blown away by the individual, the aptitude and the best way he carries himself,” Lynch mentioned.

The e book on Lance all by way of the pre-draft course of was that he was the anti-Jones, bringing with him the best ceiling however presumably the bottom ground.

Lance had simply 17 school begins and 318 school cross makes an attempt. All of these got here on the FCS degree. As well as, there are questions on his accuracy and a few footwork points that have to be cleaned up. These are the issues that make him a little bit of a danger.

However for each potential query, there gave the impression to be a number of solutions to wipe it away. At 6-foot-4, 226 kilos, Lance cuts an imposing, bodily presence. A number of analysts say Lance additionally brings one of many strongest arms within the draft, to not point out the kind of operating capability that led to 1,100 yards in 2019.

Lance’s intangibles might need been probably the most useful asset of all.

“If you watch the movie, you see such a real quarterback in each side of how he performs,” Shanahan mentioned. “Then you definitely meet him and you are like, ‘Man, this man does not must be a quarterback. He can go be a CEO of some firm.’ That is an enormous praise. It is a very spectacular factor to look at the ability set he has, simply how clever he’s, how he handles himself. Then to understand how he pertains to all his teammates, simply going up there and watching how his teammates speak about him, how they gravitate round him, watching a few of them interviewed on TV. You may inform he will impress a soccer group. He’d additionally impress an organization. He’ll be spectacular in no matter he is in.”

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NDSU quarterback Trey Lance is in tears of pleasure after he’s chosen No. 3 by the 49ers within the NFL draft.

All through historical past, quarterbacks drafted from the highest three have not precisely labored out, at the least not in terms of successful Tremendous Bowls. The 49ers’ state of affairs, although, is uniquely set as much as assist a gifted however inexperienced quarterback attain his lofty potential.

Earlier than Thursday, no quarterback had ever been drafted increased than No. 25 to a group only one full season faraway from a Tremendous Bowl. That Lance is becoming a member of a group with a loaded roster, a gifted teaching workers and an revolutionary offensive scheme is the exact purpose the Niners had been the perfect group to take him.

No franchise is healthier geared up to assist Lance attain his potential and no prospect is healthier geared up to reap the benefits of the assets at his disposal and presumably even elevate Shanahan’s offense to beforehand unseen locations.

“I do not assume I might have been in a greater state of affairs,” Lance mentioned. “I am tremendous excited to get there and study.”

Make no mistake: Lance is not practically as far-off from enjoying as his lack of expertise would possibly lead you to consider, both. North Dakota State put rather a lot on Lance’s plate, asking him to spit out prolonged terminology within the huddle, deal with NFL-style play-action dropbacks from underneath middle and name protections on the line of scrimmage. Lance dealt with all of that at the same time as a redshirt freshman, and although he’ll nonetheless have an enormous transition to the NFL, these issues ought to all assist make it a bit simpler.

And if he isn’t able to go any time quickly? The expectation stays that incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo will likely be again, particularly after many quarterback-needy groups drafted or traded for different quarterbacks this week. That does not imply Lance will not begin or play in any respect in 2021. However the Niners now have the choice to comply with the instance of the 2017 Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, who allowed rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes to study behind Alex Smith earlier than enjoying in a meaningless Week 16 sport after the Chiefs had clinched a playoff spot.

Shanahan mentioned he could be “excited” if Lance was “prepared” to play, however no one has to hurry into something.

“We all know the place Jimmy’s at,” Shanahan mentioned. “[Lance] hasn’t performed soccer in a 12 months. He hasn’t been to an OTA. I would like to get him out right here; it would be very laborious for me to image a state of affairs the place Jimmy’s not right here on Sunday. As a result of that may be, I believe, very anxious for us, as a result of Jimmy’s an excellent participant and I believe we are able to win with him. So we’ll play that by ear, however I count on Jimmy to be right here and I would be shocked if he wasn’t.”

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