The media at large was certain Kyle Shanahan was going to select Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick last offseason. Instead, the 49ers’ head coach went with Trey Lance, a high upside prospect that was seen as more of a project than the other QBs on the top of draft boards.
Though Shanahan has talked at length about why he selected Lance, he has never done so in the context of why he liked him over Jones. Shanahan did so on a recent episode of the “I Am Athlete” podcast with Brandon Marshall and Pacman Jones, explaining why he went with potential over the sure thing.
“That’s what’s funny,” Shanahan began when asked when he knew he wanted to take Lance. “Because everyone wants to know that exact moment, and you should ask people who have to deal with me, that moment changes everyday. Because when I have two things I believe in I always check myself a lot.
“I always compare it to how I buy houses. When my wife would bring me to a house she loves, I go through the house and I point out everything that’s wrong with it and usually by the end of it she’s in tears and apologizing to the realtor for how offensive I’ve been. Then I come out and they’re out there like ‘What do you think?’ And I’m like ‘I like this one. Let’s get this.’ And they’re like ‘What are you talking about?’”
Shanahan continued with the housing analogy.
“It’s just like no, I realize the things that we’re wrong and I can fix those three things,” Shanahan said. “So let’s go off the potential of this. That’s how I was with him and Mac. Because Mac has so much good stuff on tape the way he played, and Trey I loved what he put on tape. It was a year of football, so it wasn’t totally enough especially in the division. But the more you dive into it, the more I got to know the guy, the more I got to find out some stuff about him, I believed in what I didn’t see and what I believe we will see.”
It remains to be seen how many of those things have already been fixed since Lance was drafted, but Jones proved he was at least a decent pick by the Patriots last year. As a rookie, Jones was named to the Pro Bowl and helped lead New England to a 10-7 record.
Though Jones’ rookie year was excellent by almost any metric, he looked more like a game manager than a game changer. Shanahan hopes Lance is the latter, and one who can take the 49ers one step further than Jimmy Garoppolo did.