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Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

“Thank God for Mr. Irrelevant”: John Lynch reflects on 49ers drafting Trey Lance

Apr 22, 2024 at 1:14 PM

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The decision to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft and select quarterback Trey Lance could have had significant consequences for general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. With the team lacking first-round picks in the last two drafts due to this move, and Lance no longer on the roster after being traded to the Dallas Cowboys before last season, it's clear the gamble didn't unfold as expected.

Lynch held his annual pre-draft press conference on Monday, reflecting on the decision to take such a big chance on Lance. While such a bold move might have jeopardized jobs elsewhere, Lynch and Shanahan were blessed with some good fortune in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Acknowledging the support of the team's ownership, Lynch stated, "They believe in Kyle and I, and our leadership. When we think something's going to make us better, they say go for it, and they don't give us a lot of restrictions there. And that's comforting to know we can go be bold and do things like that.

"And yeah, we gave up a lot. We did it for reasons that we had, and motivations, and it didn't work out. But thank God for Mr. Irrelevant (Brock Purdy). He helped us."

Lynch didn't want to disparage Lance as a player because the decision to part ways with the former No. 3 overall pick didn't come lightly. It was just the response to the circumstances the 49ers faced. Lance suffered a devastating setback in 2022, with his season ending early due to an injury. A later injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo allowed Purdy to step into the starting lineup, and he flourished.

"I always am careful of this because Trey Lance's story hasn't been written yet," Lynch continued. "He's in Dallas right now and I still think Trey's got good football in him. We'll see. That will play out. But I think, also, the freedom that, when you've done something, and you feel like maybe it can improve us to move on, we aren't beholden to, 'Well, we drafted the guy. We just gotta stick it out.' We can do the things we want to do, and I think that served us well."

Despite the organization's perceived misstep, the 49ers have remained competitive in the NFL. With two Super Bowl appearances since the 2019 season, they are poised to contend for another championship during the upcoming campaign.

Reflecting on the decision-making process behind acquiring Lance, Lynch said, "We certainly study it, say what went right, what went wrong, and we do that with all our picks. But I think we're in a real good place as a football team, as an organization, and we got to find a way to get a little bit better. And that's the focus of this whole offseason, and this draft is an awesome opportunity to do just that."

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