Former 49ers GM likes Trey Lance over Zach Wilson

May 5, 2021 at 6:37 AM--

Scot McCloughan spent two seasons as the San Francisco 49ers general manager, helping build the roster eventually taken over by Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh. Before that, he was the team's VP of personnel.

Matt Barrows of The Athletic spoke with McCloughan to get his opinion of his former team's most recent draft class. While his pre-draft grades had Zach Wilson, whom the New York Jets selected at No. 2, rated higher than Trey Lance, the 49ers' pick, McCloughan would have personally selected Lance over Wilson.

He wouldn't have, however, traded two future first-round picks to move up to get him. The inexperience at North Dakota State and the level of competition created too many unknowns. But personally, he still liked Lance more than Wilson.

McCloughan describes Wilson as a "new toy" that everyone is enamored with. It has features that others don't.

"But then after a while, you're like: 'Is that it? Is that good enough to take you to the next level?' I don't think so," McCloughan told Barrows.

McCloughan didn't rave over Lance, initially giving him a grade good enough to be selected between pick Nos. 21 and 32, but acknowledges the 49ers can win a championship with him. The former general manager just doesn't see the quarterback ever possessing one trait that is the best in the league. He sees Lance becoming good enough at everything, though, comparing him to Steve McNair and Dak Prescott rather than a Patrick Mahomes or Brett Favre.

"He's a big dude," McCloughan told Barrows. "And physically, he'll be able to hold up to the demand of 17 games or 18 games. He can take the rigor of it because he's big. Wilson can't. Wilson's going to be hit-and-miss. It's going to be like Drew Brees — if he takes a clean shot, you're going to be like, "Oh, sh—!" I think with Trey, he'll hold up because he's a big guy."

McCloughan admits that he likes Wilson's release more than Lance's, but the 49ers rookie has a good enough release with solid arm strength. And the former executive feels that Lance will be able to survive NFL hits better than Wilson. That was a huge question mark in his analysis of the BYU star.

"[Lance] can power the ball," McCloughan added. "He's going to get better with that. His arm strength is definitely a positive. It's not a negative at all."

What about Justin Fields or Mac Jones, whom many felt might be the 49ers' pick at No. 3? McCloughan saw Fields as a prospect worthy of a selection somewhere between pick Nos. 11 and 20. The Chicago Bears selected him at No. 11. With Jones, he didn't even see a first-round pick, giving the former Alabama quarterback a third-round grade and describing him as a "perennial backup." The New England Patriots ended up drafting him at No. 15.

Click here to read the entire interview with McCloughan, who shares his thoughts on several other 49ers draft selections.

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