For The Record - 49ers QB Trey Lance

Justin Wong
May 8, 2021 at 12:46 PM3


While NFL Draft pundits and fans alike can give instant reactions to their team's player selections, it's easy to forget that the true value of the picks cannot be fully assessed until after a couple of seasons. Some players become instant starters (Nick Bosa) while others remain a work in progress (Javon Kinlaw). Having said that, I want to pull out the receipts on what draft analysts were saying prior to the draft, along with their player comparisons. With the 2021 NFL Draft class now in the books, let's review what various scouting outlets were saying about the 49ers' draft picks in this mini-series, "For The Record". The San Francisco 49ers traded the 12th overall pick, a 2022 third-round compensatory pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the 3rd overall pick. After weeks of speculation, the San Francisco 49ers selected North Dakota State quarterback, Trey Lance.


NFL Player Comparison: Josh Allen

Dane Brugler of The Athletic has Lance as an "unprecedented evaluation" in his 2021 NFL Draft Guide:

A unique talent, Lance has the athleticism, arm talent, and make-up to be a playmaker. While he takes care of the football, there were too many one-read-and-run plays on film and NDSU relied on the run game as the bread-and-butter of their offense (In his 17 career starts, Lance averaged 18.6 pass attempts per game while the team averaged 45 rush attempts). Overall, Lance is an unprecedented evaluation and will require time as he adjusts to the speed and complexities of the NFL, but his physical traits, poise, and intelligence are a rare package for his age and meager experience. He should compete for NFL starting snaps during his rookie season.

NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein believes Lance has more "football savvy than most of the quarterbacks in this draft class."

One-year starter who dazzled in 2019. Lance is mature for his age, but will be just 20 years old at the time of the 2021 NFL Draft. He's a rare dual-threat quarterback in that he's tasked with setting his own protections and reading the full field. Coaches rave about his football IQ and film work. They believe he will come into the league more football savvy than most of the quarterbacks in this draft. Tape shows very average arm strength but velocity should improve with better lower-body drive. While his recognition of coverage danger is a plus, he's currently more of a "yellow light" quarterback who needs to find a "green light" risk-taking mentality to become a playmaking talent in the NFL. An offensive coordinator willing to blend his run/pass talent with a play-action attack could get the most out of Lance, who should become a good NFL starter.

ESPN Scout Inc.'s Draft profile of Lance gave him a 92 grade with "elite physical abilities":

In 2019, Lance set the NCAA record for most passing attempts without an interception in a complete season. He has an exceptional build and great arm strength. He extends plays and makes off-platform throws with frequency. He's efficient dropping from under center, and he excels at selling play action. Lance has fast eyes and does an exceptional job with ball security. He shows good downfield touch, but his biggest weakness is a lack of consistently accurate ball placement, especially on shorter throws and throws outside the hashes. He wasn't asked to make many anticipatory throws at NDSU. He's a bruising runner with good top-end speed. Lance's relative inexperience (17 starts) and FCS level of competition are concerns, but he has elite physical abilities.

Pro Football Focus said Lance gives the 49ers a "live arm to go along with his explosive running ability" during its live analysis of the 2021 NFL Draft:

After weeks of speculation, the 49ers find their quarterback of the future with dynamic North Dakota State playmaker Trey Lance. In his one full season at the helm for the Bison, Lance posted a 90.7 PFF grade and didn't throw a single interception on 288 passing attempts. He gives the 49ers a live arm to go along with his explosive running ability.

Were 49ers fans more relieved than excited when Trey Lance's name was finally called? I can't remember a team receiving this much media coverage leading up to the NFL draft. Then again, the 49ers arguably made their most aggressive trade in franchise history with nearly an entire month for the media to speculate as to who the 49ers were going to select with the No. 3 pick. The 49ers gave up a massive haul of draft capital to get into this spot in a move that could potentially accelerate or deflate the franchise for years to come. This draft selection is as big as it gets for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

In a COVID-19 season during which Lance only played one game in 2020, evaluating the former North Dakota State quarterback was unprecedented for many NFL draft scouts. With just 17 career starts, all Lance did was win and exceed the expectations as a bonafide dual-threat quarterback. Lance garners player comparisons to the Bills' Josh Allen and the Cowboys' Dak Prescott but is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect out of the group of quarterback prospects.

If there was a coaching staff that could potentially groom him into an NFL star, look no further than the situation he inherits with Shanahan and the 49ers. Lance joins an already contending NFL team with an established veteran quarterback in Jimmy Garoopolo to help him make the jump from FCS- to NFL-level competition. The 49ers are aiming for the stars with this selection and while it's a big gamble, I can respect their approach versus a presumably safer prospect such as former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who was nabbed by the New England Patriots with the 15th overall pick.

Only time will tell whether the 49ers were right to pass on the likes of Jones and former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Regardless, what a time to be a 49ers fan. The development--notably the in-game involvement--of Lance this upcoming season will be one of the more intriguing stories in the NFL.
  • Justin Wong
  • Written by:
    Justin Wong has been writing for the 49ers Webzone since 2017 while also running an NFC West blog and podcast called Just The West. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @JustTheWest on Twitter.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • Rob
    I just think we need to pump the brakes here on this kid. There is a guy who says he's already be better than Mahomes for Christs sake. yes he has all the tools but so have a lot of other guys with much better resumes and they never amounted to anything. I mean i hope he makes it but even Peyton Manning et al either sat or had terrible rookie years. I would hate to see this kid thrown into fire only to fail and be damaged goods. Seems like Kyle and John are keenly aware of that and have no problem rolling with Jimmy. Even if Lance shows promise there is NO WAY he starts if Niners are rolling with Jimmy and winning. Can you imagine what that would do to the locker room? I can only imagine what 85 would be saying. If the 2021 Jimmy is the 2019 Lamce shouldnt be anything more than a gimmick guy or just watch and learn. This is a very veteran team who I don't think has the patience for a rookie QB to lean on the fly.....
    May 12, 2021 at 10:52 AM
    0
    Response: No lies detected. It should be interesting to see how they develop their QB of the future.
  • Richard
    "Tape shows very average arm strength" haha what? Every scouting report and tape I've seen shows above average/borderline elite arm strength
    May 9, 2021 at 10:14 AM
    1
    Response: You got me there, not sure about that assessment either.
  • Truenuff
    Yawn. Old news
    May 8, 2021 at 1:39 PM
    0
    Response: I mean, they are receipts haha. Glad you're well informed!

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