Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

5 things to know about new 49ers QB Trey Lance

Apr 29, 2021 at 5:49 PM--

After one very long month-plus of waiting and anticipating, the San Francisco 49ers have finally announced their choice of quarterback at pick three overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The selection is Trey Lance, the talented but raw quarterback from FCS school North Dakota State.

Fans who have been paying close attention to the process over these past several weeks are likely already aware of some of the important things about the new 49ers quarterback. But for those who are still new to Lance, here are five things you'll want to know as his career with the 49ers begins.

1. Lance's father had his cup of coffee in the NFL -- with the 49ers - Lance's father Carlton had a standout college career as a defensive back at Southwest Minnesota State University (where he's a member of the school's Athletics Hall of Honor) before going on to a brief career as a professional. Carlton Lance played a season with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League and the London Monarchs of the World Football League, while also having training camp stints with the 49ers and Houston Oilers. Of his time with the 49ers in 1994, Carlton Lance told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "That was the early days of free agency. The 49ers flew Deion Sanders in and flew me out."

Carlton Lance was also a standout in track at SMSU. He passed his athletic bloodlines onto his son, along with an intense dedication to studying the game...

2. Thanks to his father, Lance is a beast in the film room - Carlton Lance has always loved to dissect game film, and at one point he began to bring his son along for the ride. Lance's mother Angie told the Star-Tribune that Carlton and Trey's love for watching film was "an obsession," while Trey's high school teammate Reece Winkelman suggested the same.

"Nobody watches more film than Trey," Winkelman told the Star-Tribune. "It's crazy how much film he watches."

There's no doubt the 49ers liked what they heard on this subject when they were doing their homework on their new quarterback.

3. Backyard football helped lead to the discovery of Lance's quarterback potential - While Carlton Lance was teaching his son the game off the field in the film room, it was backyard football sessions that helped plant the seeds for Trey to eventually become a first-round prospect.

Trey's quarterbacking debut came in eighth grade when Carlton made him the backup quarterback of the Marshall Middle School football team in his hometown of Marshall, Minnesota. But it was while the two of them were tossing the ball back and forth in the backyard that Carlton began to realize his son had a cannon for an arm.

"The ball just started flying out of his hand, and he could put it wherever I asked him to," Carlton told NFL.com this spring. "He started tearing up my hands. I had to get some gloves after a while."

Little did they know at the time that Trey's rise to prominence had begun. But it wouldn't come without some hurdles and more than a few cold shoulders...

4. Lance was once ignored by power college programs and recruiting websites, but now he's having the last laugh - According to the article from NFL.com, Lance attended a regional Elite 11 quarterback camp in Chicago in 2017, where in his opinion, he performed pretty well. But he wasn't being given the time of day by the event's organizers, who gave preference to other quarterbacks based on what they saw on film. Some of those quarterbacks were even given the green light to skip ahead of Lance in line to get in extra reps during passing drills.

Lance was also ignored by most major college programs, while the few who paid attention were interested in him playing defense. Lance hoped at one point to attend the University of Minnesota, but it thought he was a better fit on defense and had promised one of its committed recruits that it wouldn't add another quarterback in that recruiting year. The University of Iowa, who was the only Power Five school to offer Lance, saw him as a linebacker. Maybe it didn't help that Lance ran a Wing-T at Marshall High School, where he was also played safety and was a return specialist. (Lance's high school coach, Terry Bahlmann, told the Star-Tribune that Lance also only played in the first half of many games due to the team having a huge advantage at halftime).

Eventually, North Dakota State took notice of Lance's quarterback abilities and brought him aboard. It paid off with a fantastic redshirt freshman season during which Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns, and zero interceptions while running for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns during a run to the FCS Championship.

5. Lance is very young and inexperienced - Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, Lance didn't get much opportunity to perform for North Dakota State once his redshirt freshman season came to an end. Lance only played in one game during his sophomore season in 2020, an exhibition against Central Arkansas in which he threw for 149 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on 15-of-30 passing while also rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

In addition to only playing in 19 games in college at a lower level of competition, Lance is still just 20 years old (he'll turn 21 in May). Fellow quarterback prospects Justin Fields and Mac Jones are 22 years old, while Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will turn 22 later this year.

So, the 49ers have themselves an extremely talented player to mold who is also a little bit of an unknown quantity in terms of how he'll turn out in the NFL. Will he continue his upward trajectory and become the franchise quarterback the 49ers need him to be? It'll be fun to find out.

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