D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ John Lynch reveals when Kyle Shanahan started drawing up plays for Trey Lance

May 25, 2021 at 5:55 PM--

Head coach Kyle Shanahan became infatuated with Trey Lance in January. The San Francisco 49ers say they traded up to No. 3 overall with Lance as the target, all while keeping their intentions secret. That doesn't mean they weren't going to do their due diligence on the other quarterback options.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch knew Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson were near locks to go one and two in the draft. That left Lance of North Dakota State, Justin Fields of Ohio State, and Mac Jones of Alabama as the top prospects. Rampant speculation had Jones as the likely target, but that wasn't the case, it seems. While Shanahan liked things about the other quarterbacks, he dreamed up drawing plays for Lance.

Lynch jumped on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast this week and shared a story of how early Shanahan started drawing up some of those plays.

"I remember coming back from Ohio State, and Justin Fields had had a fantastic workout," Lynch told Collinsworth. "But on the way back, we're on the plane — Jed (York) was nice enough to get us a plane — and Kyle's on his iPad with that [Apple] Pencil, and he's just grinding over there.

"Finally, he said, 'Look at this.' I was wondering what he was doing. Well, he was drawing up stuff with Trey in mind. We had just come from Justin Fields' (workout), and we both agreed his workout was fantastic. But that's when I said, 'He's really all in on this.' And the excitement he had, because he's doodling there, drawing up plays with Trey in mind."

Lynch reiterated that the decision to draft a quarterback wasn't due to any dissatisfaction in Jimmy Garoppolo's play. He was a throw or two away from helping the 49ers win a Super Bowl, after all. It had everything to do with the veteran quarterback's availability — or lack thereof.

Lynch and Shanahan felt this was a strong rookie quarterback class, so if they were going to consider a shakeup in the quarterback room, this was the perfect offseason to do so.

The 49ers got to work studying the prospects but realized that their initial draft slot at No. 12 was problematic. There were too many teams that needed quarterbacks, so there was a possibility that they would miss out on the guy they wanted.

"We really had started focusing in on Trey, myself, and Kyle, as the guy that we were very much interested in," Lynch said. "So we make that move from 12. We called teams. We didn't call Jacksonville at one. We talked to the Jets a little at two. We talked to Miami at three. I have a very good relationship with (Dolphins GM) Chris Grier. That one showed promise right away. They were interested.

"We talked to Atlanta at four, Cincinnati at five, and we didn't want to go any lower than that. We got the most traction with the Dolphins, and that was a big move. We knew it was going to be expensive, and even more expensive because we said, 'We don't want to wait. We want to do this now and beat whoever it is that also needs a quarterback to the punch.' And we paid a lot to do it. We paid a premium to do it, but we were convicted it was the right thing to do."

Lynch was glad that Shanahan was so high on Lance early on because that's the quarterback the general manager loved too. Still, both committed to seeing the process through. While they were in love with Lance's film, they wanted to see the quarterback in person. They also wanted to listen to what their scouting staff and coaches had to say and do their homework on the other prospects.

"Mac played out of his mind," Lynch said. "I mean, his year last year, it was near flawless. And the way he played the position -- and I know a lot of people had thoughts on that's way too high for a guy like that -- but did we give it consideration? Sure. We gave all those guys (consideration). Justin Fields, there's so much to like about his game. But Trey, from early on in the process, kind of was the favorite."

In the end, they drafted the quarterback both fell in love with early on.

You can listen to the conversation with Lynch below. Most of the conversation focuses on the former NFL safety's playing days, but also includes his transition from a broadcaster to a general manager.

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