The 49ers got their guy, and we finally know who it is.
Despite weeks of rumors that Alabama’s Mac Jones would be the shocking choice of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch as their quarterback of the future, the 49ers’ brass selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday, in a move that came with a much better response from the fan base than the selection of Jones likely would have.
The buzz that it was going to be Lance picked up on Thursday to the point that he became the favorite over Jones in many Vegas sportsbooks. What was incredible is that nobody, including reportedly many within the 49ers building, had an idea which quarterback Lynch and Shanahan were eyeing when they traded three first-round picks over a month ago.
Now it’s clear, and Lynch and Shanahan explained why the North Dakota State quarterback was the apple of their eye when they joined KNBR on Thursday following the selection.
Lynch gave a few brief remarks first, saying that they loved Lance’s combination of impressive tape and people skills.
“There’s a lot of reasons it was Trey Lance,” Lynch said. “I think you obviously have to have the requisite talent, and this is a very talented young man.
“We got to really admire and respect this person. Incredibly bright. Incredibly grounded and humble yet competitive. I think the ability just spoke through the tape.”
Shanahan echoed that sentiment, but went into further detail, saying that Lance intrigued him because of his ability both as a thrower and runner. This goes against the narrative that Shanahan is more interested in pocket passers.
“It’s always tough when you go back to watch a smaller school, nothing against North Dakota State, they do it better than anyone in their division, but when you go and watch that stuff and you don’t have a 2020 season, it’s always tough,” Shanahan began. “But you fall in love with his tape. And the way he plays the position. Depending on what cut up you watch, if you’re just watching game tape, you have a ton of respect for the way he plays the quarterback position.
“Then when you can watch what he does from a run standpoint, if a defense is in certain formations, honor 11 on 11 football, because he is that type of threat. Not just with his speed but also the way he runs the ball. He’s very natural at it. He can protect the football, he’s got the size, but he’s always going to be a threat at any time. And if you can add that to a guy who can play the position well, and then being able to go through this process once we got to No. 3…and we got to connect with him, we fell in love with the person.”
Lance, in his only full season as a quarterback in 2019, had a 66.9 percent completion percentage with 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is as dynamic as it gets, and while there is expected to be a steeper learning curve for Lance than most, reports suggest he’s not just a fast learner, but an eager one.
In fact, Shanahan framed Lance as a near savant when it comes to breaking down game tape, and that the 49ers might actually be lucky that he only played one game in 2020.
“As John said, he’s a very impressive person, comes from a very impressive family. Not just a good person but a gifted person in terms of how smart he is and how he handles people. We felt he checked every single box. We wish he could’ve played this year, but we might not have gotten him if he played this year, he might have gone earlier.
“When you can get him on and hear him talk, then he was just off the charts with it. He articulates everything perfect. He knew his offense inside and out. The verbiage, the o-line’s responsibility, everything. From that standpoint he was unbelievable, but it’s the film matched with that, that impresses you.”