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They didn’t draft Mac Jones. You can exhale now. Or crack a beer. Celebrate, the 49ers have their franchise quarterback, and it’s a guy who’s built for the 21st century. With the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers have selected Trey Lance, quarterback, North Dakota State.
There was a significant amount of speculation that it would be Jones, but reports suggest that, while Jones was the initial, preferred choice for Shanahan, Lance wooed the 49ers not just with his obvious physical traits, but his mental acuity and personality. Being intelligent and affable and not having a DUI on his record, like Jones, counts for something. Lance is reportedly voracious in his appetite to learn, something that was probably music to Shanahan’s ears.
What makes Lance a preferable choice to Justin Fields from Shanahan’s perspective, is likely his approach. Fields is very deliberate in his motion and had some issues with anticipation, so there is an understandable lens from which you can argue that Lance, who ran a lot of play-action, bootlegs, and delivered the ball quickly, is a better fit.
The questions over Lance are over the level of competition he faced at North Dakota State, and some inconsistencies with his accuracy, the most glaring of which was displayed in his last two games played. But the raw talent, with arm strength, size, speed, vision and intelligence; it’s all there.
Lance, in his only full season as a quarterback, had a 66.9 percent completion percentage with 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is as dynamic as it gets, and while there is expected to be a steeper learning curve for Lance than most, reports suggest he’s not just a fast learner, but an eager one.