Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

McShay: 49ers made the right choice in drafting Trey Lance

Apr 30, 2021 at 10:06 AM--

There were a lot of assumptions leading to the 2021 NFL Draft. Many had the San Francisco 49ers selecting Mac Jones of Alabama with the No. 3 overall pick. It would not have been a popular choice among the fanbase. Most preferred Justin Fields of Ohio State and liked the potentially high ceiling of Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

After over a month of rampant speculation, Lance ended up being the selection. Based on the quarterbacks head coach Kyle Shanahan has preferred in the past, most analysts felt Jones would be the pick.

Was Lance the correct choice? Obviously, we will have to wait a few years to answer that with any assuredness. Fields ended up going to the Chicago Bears and Jones to the New England Patriots.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay was among those who believed the choice at No. 3 would be Jones, but he felt Lance was the better long-term prospect. McShay says the 49ers made the correct choice.

"I give a lot of credit to Niners coach Kyle Shanahan," McShay wrote in a feature for ESPN. "For more than a month, we've been hearing how Jones was the team's preference, but San Francisco did its due diligence with the other QBs, especially Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance, and saw the process through."

Lance gives Shanahan a dynamic passer who opposing defenses have to account for because the athletic quarterback can hurt you with both his arm and legs. The former Bison added 1,100 rushing yards and 14 rushing scores to his 2,786 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes as a sophomore in 2019.

Rather than 10-on-11 football, defenses now have to prepare for 11-on-11.

"Shanahan came up short in two Super Bowls with pocket passers," McShay added, "first as a coordinator with Matt Ryan in Atlanta and second as a head coach with Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. And the second loss came at the hands of one the NFL's best -- if not the best -- second-reaction QBs in Patrick Mahomes. I really think Shanahan decided he wanted a QB who can extend plays, work off schedule and tuck it and run when needed."

McShay has been high on Lance. The analyst had the rookie ranked as his No. 3 quarterback on his pre-draft big board, behind Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, and his No. 9 prospect overall.

"As a fit, Lance has a big arm and reads the field really well," McShay added. "He excels selling play-action, a staple in Shanahan's offensive scheme. He'll need to work on his accuracy a little, but he can sit behind Garoppolo -- unless the veteran is dealt -- for a while and develop before eventually taking over under center."

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