49ers draft North Dakota State QB Trey Lance at No. 3 overall

Apr 29, 2021 at 5:41 PM--


After weeks of speculation, the San Francisco 49ers selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. He becomes the first quarterback selected by the Niners in the first round since Alex Smith was taken No. 1 overall in 2005.

How big a secret was the pick? Lance said onstage after hearing his name called that he learned of the selection only minutes earlier.


San Francisco surrendered four draft picks, including three first-rounders, to the Miami Dolphins on March 26 to acquire the No. 3 overall pick. It is the second time in three years that the 49ers have owned a top-three selection.

The Bison's 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lance appeared in just one non-conference game this past season, throwing for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception while adding 143 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground in a 39-28 victory over Central Arkansas. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 passing touchdowns and no interceptions through 16 games as a sophomore in 2019 while adding 1,100 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch, and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello attended Lance's pro day in Fargo, North Dakota, on April 19.

Lance is from Marshall, MN. He earned a pre-draft grade of 6.47 from NFL.com, which equates to a "starter within first two seasons," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, this selection is the highest a team has drafted a quarterback after being only one season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The previous record was held by the Green Bay Packers, who drafted Don Horn at No. 25 overall in 1967.

Below is the NFL.com draft profile bio on Lance:

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Lance won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the FCS and the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year award. He led the team to 16 straight wins, culminating in an FCS title. He ranked second in the FCS in yards per pass attempt (9.7 per, 2,786 total yards) and fifth in completion percentage (66.9%). He did not throw an interception the entire campaign while also ranking 10th in the FCS in rushing yards per carry (169-1,100-6.5, 14 TDs). North Dakota State postponed its 2020 football season until the spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but played one fall contest (versus Central Arkansas on Oct. 3). Lance led the Bison to victory, completing 15 of 30 passes for 149 yards, two TDs and one INT. He also ran 15 times for 143 yards (9.5 per carry) and two TDs. Lance announced he was moving on to the NFL a few days later. Lance was an all-state pick at Marshall High School in Minnesota, but he told NFL.com's Chase Goodbread that Golden Gophers coach P.J. Fleck wanted to move him to safety when he was being recruited. He signed with the Bison to prove himself at quarterback. -- by Chad Reuter

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who compares Lance to Josh Allen, wrote the following about Lance within his scouting report:

One-year starter who dazzled in 2019. Lance is mature for his age, but will be just 20 years old at the time of the 2021 NFL Draft. He's a rare dual-threat quarterback in that he's tasked with setting his own protections and reading the full field. Coaches rave about his football IQ and film work. They believe he will come into the league more football savvy than most of the quarterbacks in this draft. Tape shows very average arm strength but velocity should improve with better lower-body drive. While his recognition of coverage danger is a plus, he's currently more of a "yellow light" quarterback who needs to find a "green light" risk-taking mentality to become a playmaking talent in the NFL. An offensive coordinator willing to blend his run/pass talent with a play-action attack could get the most out of Lance, who should become a good NFL starter.

Drae Harris of The Draft Network wrote the following about Lance within his scouting report:

Trey Lance has aligned in the pistol, the gun, and has shown the ability to run the offense from under center. He plays the position with good athleticism, as evidenced by his ability to get out of the pocket and extend plays with his legs. Even within the pocket, his mobility and footwork seemed to have developed. Because he is a threat to move the chains with his legs, he needs to be accounted for in the zone-read game. As a passer, he seems to be able to generate velocity on his throws, which is critical for playing in the elements. He has also shown some touch and accuracy down the field on his deep throws. He needs to continue to develop the subtle nuances of the position to continue to maximize his natural talent as a passer.

Pro Football Focus wrote the following about Lance:

In an utterly loaded class, Lance may have more pure physical talent than all of these QBs. However, quarterback is still a performance position, and that's where Lance will be a difficult eval. Operating a run-heavy offense against FCS competition is a massive difference from operating a pass-happy system against an NFL defense. But even with some accuracy issues, Lance still has a high floor because of his rushing ability. He is a battering ram with the ball in his hands and will be a weapon in the red zone and short-yardage situations. Combine that with an arm capable of slinging it 70-plus yards downfield in a flick, and it's scary to think what he could become.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote the following about Lance:

A one-year starter at North Dakota State, Lance was a dual-threat quarterback in the Bison read-based scheme. He followed in the footsteps of Easton Stick and Carson Wentz, who were both NFL draft picks. A late bloomer at the high school level, Lance had one of the most impressive statistical seasons in college football history in 2019 (42 total touchdowns, zero interceptions), but that is the only full season on his 17-start (all vs. FCS competition) college resume. A unique talent, Lance has the athleticism, arm talent and make-up to be a playmaker. While he takes care of the football, there were too many one-read-and-run plays on film and NDSU relied on the run game as the bread-and-butter of their offense (In his 17 career starts, Lance averaged 18.6 pass attempts per game while the team averaged 45 rush attempts). Overall, Lance is an unprecedented evaluation and will require time as he adjusts to the speed and complexities of the NFL, but his physical traits, poise and intelligence are a rare package for his age and meager experience. He should compete for NFL starting snaps during his rookie season.

Measurables


Height: 6-4
Weight: 224 lbs.
Arm length: 31.5 inches
Hand length: 9.125 inches

Personal


  • Attended Marshall (MN) HS where he threw for 1,386 yds. and 14 TDs and rushed for 641 yds. and 10 TDs as a senior in 2018. Also recorded 54 tackles and 3 INTs at safety that season.
  • Son of Carlton and Angie Lance.
  • Majored in strategic communication with a minor in business administration at North Dakota State.
  • Born Trey Lance (5/9/00) in Marshall, MN.

Other Notes


  • Father, Carlton, played football for Southwest Minnesota State and attended NFL camps with the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers before playing in the CFL for the Saskatche- wan Roughriders (1993) and in the World League for the Lon- don Monarchs (1995).
  • Younger brother, Bryce, is a WR who is committed to play for North Dakota State in 2021.
  • Was a captain for both the football and basketball teams as a senior at Marshall (MN) HS.

College Statistics
Year School Class G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
2018 North Dakota State FR 2 1 1 100 12 12 12 -- -- 200.8
2019 North Dakota State SO 16 192 287 66.9 2,786 9.7 11.7 28 -- 180.6
Total North Dakota State 193 288 67 2,798 9.7 11.7 28 -- 180.7


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