Kyle Shanahan explains how trading up made things easier for the 49ers

May 3, 2021 at 2:09 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers sat at No. 3 for over a month, and even when they were on the clock, no one was 100 percent sure who they were drafting. We knew it would be a quarterback, but which one? Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch remained secretive throughout the whole process.

Imagine how under wraps things would have been had they stayed at No. 12.

That's why the 49ers traded up. They didn't want to sneak around in the shadows, evaluating quarterbacks and hoping those prospects didn't talk to anyone about the team's intentions.

"At 12, you see two guys on tape, like, 'Man, if any of these guys are there, I for sure would take them,'" Shanahan told Rich Eisen during an interview on the Rich Eisen Show. "And you know what? There's probably other guys too I would take at [12], so I think there might be five I would take at 12.

"Then we get up to a spot that is high. Now, I know we're for sure going to get [a quarterback]. And before we did that, I knew for sure we wanted one."

That's why the March 26 trade changed everything for the 49ers. Some might criticize the team, saying that maybe Shanahan and Lynch could have given up less to trade to a spot not as high and still gotten their guy. But the team would have needed to be more careful not to tip its hand. Maybe it wouldn't have been able to send Shanahan and Lynch to the second pro days of all three quarterback prospects.

"So, when we got there, you're allowed to go through the whole process of falling in love with the kids, really getting to know them, and not having to tip your hand off to anyone," Shanahan continued. "Because something I don't like to do is I don't like to call a lot of players and stuff because usually when I do, they'll tell their agent or they'll tell someone, and then it gets back to people. And people trade right in front of you when you're one pick away, and you lose people. It's happened to me a number of times, and I've seen that happen just in my life a bunch. That's always your biggest fear.

"So, I'm not going to tell anybody anything, and once we got to three, though, it didn't matter. I could call these guys. They could tell whoever they wanted (that) I talked to them. And that's what allowed me to feel so good about it.

"When you're going off the tape, it's only half of it. It allows you to believe in what they can do and stuff, but until you really get to know that guy and the whole makeup of a person -- quarterback is a different position, and it is so hard. And it's not just about the ability. You have to have an unbelievable amount of ability that isn't just in height, weight, and speed. It also isn't just an IQ. It's in playing the game really fast in a pocket, having to decipher through things, being able to change your vision up, and all that stuff, and being able to handle the pressure of, no matter how good you are, there's going to be a lot of times that everyone tells you how bad you are. And how can you handle that? Will that make you better or worse?

"That's why — look at all the quarterbacks that have been drafted over history — it's a crapshoot. No one totally knows. Everyone's got some pretty good ideas, but you can't just go off the tape. You've got to take the whole accumulation of everything, and that's not just an easy answer or a quick thing to do."

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