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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Zierlein: Trey Lance is the perfect playmaker for Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers

Apr 10, 2021 at 11:52 AM--

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It's been nearly two weeks since NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein released his last mock draft. In it, he had the San Francisco 49ers selecting Trey Lance of North Dakota State with the No. 3 overall pick instead of Justin Fields of Ohio State or Mac Jones of Alabama.

It doesn't sound like his opinion of what head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch should do come April 29 has changed. While Zierlein's colleagues, Steve Wyche and Maurice Jones-Drew, made excellent cases for Fields to be San Francisco's pick, Zierlein stuck with his choice of Lance and defended the decision during a segment on NFL Network.

"This is the guy San Francisco should be drafting," Zierlein said. "This is the guy you trade up additional picks for. I understand the Kyle Shanahan offense. I sat here and covered it under Gary Kubiak, and he learned it from Mike Shanahan. Let me tell you, the one thing that's missing in all the quarterbacks that you mentioned (Wyche mentioned quick-decision-makers Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, and Jimmy Garoppolo), how about a guy who can make plays on the move with his feet as well? That's where the NFL is going.

"You can still make the reads, the multi-level pass progressions that you want to go through. He's got size. He's got speed. He's got attitude. And you know what I love about him? He can really make plays on the move and extend with his feet."

San Francisco shocked the NFL world on March 26 by surrendering four draft picks, including a first-rounder in each of the next three drafts, to move into the top three for a quarterback. It was an uncharacteristically aggressive move, signaling that the end of Garoppolo's time in the Bay Area might be nearing.

"To me, when you look at a player where you're going to move up, and use three first-round picks on, and trust your offense for the next several years, you want a guy that is a playmaker and not a snap-taker, and that's what I believe Trey Lance is," Zierlein explained.

Lance will only be 21 years old at the start of the 2021 NFL season. He appeared in just one non-conference game last season due to the pandemic. It was a 39-28 victory over Central Arkansas that saw the young quarterback throw for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception while adding 143 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground.

Lance's only complete season came as a sophomore in 2019 when he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions through 16 games.

"Is it a projection with only one year? Absolutely," Zierlein added. "There's no question about it. But I trust Kyle Shanahan's offense maybe more than any offense in the entire NFL to take a talented quarterback and turn him into a highly productive, and maybe even a star quarterback, in the case of Trey Lance."

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