There was no question that the 49ers paid a premium price to move up in 2021 and select Trey Lance at No. 3 overall. It was a major move that shocked at the time in a number of ways.
San Francisco sent the 12th overall pick in 2021 and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 third-round pick in exchange for the 3rd overall pick in 2021.
This all started with Laremy Tunsil.
Back in 2019, the Dolphins sent Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth- and 2021 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 second-round pick, cornerback Johnson Bademosi and tackle Julien Davenport.
That 2020 first-round pick became corner Noah Igbinoghene in a trade down with the Green Bay Packers (who drafted quarterback Jordan Love).
The 2021 first-round pick became the No. 3 overall pick, and Trey Lance.
Miami immediately used the No. 12 overall pick to get back to No. 6 overall in trade with the Eagles, sending a 2022 first-round pick in the deal (and swapping their fourth-round pick for the Eagles’ fifth).
The Dolphins selected Jaylen Waddle. The Eagles eventually traded up with the Dallas Cowboys to get DeVonta Smith at No. 10 and Dallas got Micah Parsons at No. 12.
This offseason, Miami packaged the 49ers’ 2022 first-round pick (No. 29), their own second-round (No. 50) and fourth-round picks in 2022, plus fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2023 draft to acquire Tyreek Hill.
Then, this week happened.
Miami concluded its business with the 49ers’ first-round picks by acquiring Bradley Chubb.
The Dolphins sent San Francisco’s 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds to the Broncos for Chubb and a 2025 fifth-rounder.
San Francisco netted a fifth by sending Jeff Wilson Jr. to Miami, and is also due a compensatory first-round pick for Miami’s hiring of Mike McDaniel as head coach. They also received two compensatory third-round pick last year for the hirings of McDaniel, Robert Saleh and executive Martin Mayhew (Washington’s GM).
Essentially, Laremy Tunsil (and Kenny Stills) became the pick used for Trey Lance, which then became (when used with a host of other picks), Jaylen Waddle, Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb.
In 2019, Dolphins trade Laremy Tunsil to Houston:
- Dolphins receive: Texans’ 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick, 2021 second-round pick, CB Johnson Bademosi, OT Julien Davenport.
- Texans receive: Dolphins’ 2020 fourth-round pick, 2021 sixth-round pick, OT Laremy Tunsil, WR Kenny Stills
In 2021, Houston’s 2021 first-round pick lands at No. 3 overall, conveys to Miami:
- Dolphins receive: No. 12 overall pick, first-round, third-round picks in 2022, 2023 first-round pick
- 49ers receive: No. 3 overall pick —> Trey Lance
Dolphins trade back up for Jaylen Waddle:
- Dolphins receive: No. 6 overall pick —> Jaylen Waddle, 2021 fifth-round pick
- Eagles receive: No. 12 overall pick from 49ers trade (later goes to Cowboys, becomes Micah Parsons), 2021 fourth-round pick, 2022 first-round pick
In 2022 offseason, Dolphins trade for Tyreek Hill:
- Dolphins receive: Tyreek Hill
- Chiefs receive: 2022 first-round pick (No. 29) from 49ers trade, 2022 second-round pick (No. 50) and fourth-round pick (No. 121), 2023 fourth-round and sixth-round picks
At 2022 trade deadline, Dolphins trade for Bradley Chubb:
- Dolphins receive: Bradley Chubb, 2025 fifth-round pick.
- Broncos receive: 2023 first-round pick from 49ers trade, 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds
Dolphins also trade for Jeff Wilson Jr. after moving Chase Edmonds in Chubb trade:
- Dolphins receive: Jeff Wilson Jr.
- 49ers receive: 2023 fifth-round pick
There are far too many other picks involved to say that the Lance trade accounted for all of these players, but it did account for the most valuable first-round picks that got each deal done. Miami wouldn’t have been able to make these trade without those assets.
If Lance shows that he can be a franchise-caliber quarterback next season, that cost won’t seem as brutal. The 49ers certainly believed he could become that type of player with their investment, though he faces a difficult road back after suffering a season-ending ankle fracture and dislocation.
Either way, both teams are very competitive, currently in playoff spots, and will meet on December 4 at Levi’s Stadium.