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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports has 49ers going defense in 2021 NFL Draft do-over

Apr 14, 2023 at 12:52 PM--

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Did the San Francisco 49ers make a mistake trading so much draft capital in 2021 to move up to select quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick? Since then, Lance has started only four games. His 2022 campaign ended after he suffered a season-ending ankle injury, and it looks like his starting job has been taken by last year's last overall pick, Brock Purdy.

Lance could still turn things around. The 49ers begin their offseason program next week and return to the practice field in May. The third-year quarterback will be healthy for that and looks to prove his worth this offseason.

Would San Francisco's brain trust make a different call if they had to do everything over? Adam Rank of NFL Media examined the possibility, among others, in a recent feature for—a 2021 NFL Draft do-over.

Rank has quarterback Trevor Lawrence still going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has the New York Jets, who initially drafted Zach Wilson, selecting quarterback Justin Fields. Fields actually went to Rank's favorite team, the Chicago Bears, with the No. 11 overall pick.

That brings us to the 49ers, who hoped they selected their quarterback of the future with the Lance addition. It's worth noting that Rank started his draft with the picks that teams owned heading into the annual rookie selection event. That means San Francisco remains at No. 3, and not their pre-trade slot at No. 12.

Rank has the 49ers selecting pass rusher Micah Parsons with the selection rather than going with Lance. The analyst notes that the decision to add the inexperienced quarterback has "not panned out," understanding that his first season as a starter was marred by an injury.

"But I'm not giving San Francisco a quarterback here, because the one I would take (Fields) is already gone," Rank wrote, "and because we can feel fairly confident they would have found a workable QB or two anyway, based on what the team accomplished with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy over the past two seasons. So Parsons, the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Pro, makes the most sense."

That would pair Parsons with the 2022 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa. The 49ers have tried to build a formidable twosome along the edges of their defensive front since trading for Dee Ford proved to be a mistake.

Lance does end up getting drafted in the top 10 in Rank's do-over. The analyst has the Denver Broncos selecting the former North Dakota State quarterback with the No. 9 overall pick.

"We haven't really seen enough of Lance to say he should be a top-10 pick -- but then, he did nothing to disqualify himself during his brief appearance in 2022 before going down with that ankle injury," notes Rank.

Rank has 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga going No. 7 overall to the Detroit Lions. Hufanga finished his second NFL season by earning Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors.

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