© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
One of the great mysteries of the 49ers’ 2021 Draft is what led up to Kyle Shanahan settling on Trey Lance. Was he always the choice? How much competition was there? Did they have interest in other quarterbacks?
Shanahan joined the Rich Eisen show on Monday and was fairly open about his process, and what led up to his and the 49ers’ selection of Lance. Since general manager John Lynch said the 49ers were going to upgrade their backup quarterback, it was evident that there was a significant movement.
Was it always going to be a rookie? It sounds like that was always on the table, but the 49ers clearly looked to veterans first, with Shanahan mentioning both Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson. And yes, he said he called Packers head coach and close friend Matt Lafleur about Aaron Rodgers and was told swiftly that he was wasting his time.
You’ll notice one name that Shanahan did not mention out of the rookie quarterback group, who was reported by Ian Rapoport to be ruled out of potential selection by the 49ers: Justin Fields.
“To feel the way that I did, especially about Mac [Jones] and then about Trey [Lance], and where we were at and especially with what happened with Stafford and Deshaun [Watson], we knew early, ‘hey we got to be aggressive to make sure we get one,'” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said the team believed that they evaluated the fourth and fifth picks as trade-up options, but that they felt they would have been leapfrogged for that spot. But, it was Lance, who some believe is a developmental prospect given his limited number of passes and the competition he played against.
Right now, he guaranteed definitively that Garoppolo is the team’s starter and that Lance isn’t in a position, at the moment, to compete for the job.
“Jimmy is definitely our starter right now and right now there isn’t competition because I don’t believe Trey would be in a position to compete,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy is too good of a player. He’s got too good of a grasp of our offense and he’ll start out OTAs running like he’s done before, and he’ll be the starting quarterback and I just see Trey coming in here trying to learn everything, trying to learn his teammates and we’ll just see how it goes.”
… but that comes with a caveat. When Lance shows that he’s ready, Shanahan said it’s open season.
“I’m not gonna sit here and say I’ll never play a rookie quarterback and I’m not gonna sit here and say I will play him,” Shanahan said. “That’s kind of up to him. When he’s ready to compete — which, that doesn’t mean he tells me, that doesn’t mean I tell him — we’ll all see it. And I think it’ll start with me but it’ll go to the coaches, it’ll go to the players and guys know when a guy’s ready to compete with a starter, and you kind of get that vibe and as soon as it’s like that, I will let them compete, but I’m not really setting a date on it because I know how hard that will be.”
This should be a fun season, folks.