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How Lance impressed Lynch, 49ers in pre-draft interviews

/ by Josh Schrock
Presented By Big O Tires
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The 49ers were forced to make their franchise-altering decision without all the tools that normally would be available to them.

Under normal circumstances, the 49ers would have been able to bring each quarterback prospect in for a private workout which would include hours of questions, film breakdown and an on-field throwing session.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 49ers were forced to learn all they could about Trey Lance, Mac Jones and Justin Fields through a number of Zoom interviews and one pro day session.

It was in these Zoom interviews that Lance, who the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, really cemented the 49ers' belief that he was their franchise QB.

“I knew this kid was a great kid, and you see the grit on tape, but I wanted to feel the grit,” Lynch told The MMQB's Albert Breer of the pre-draft interviews with Lance. “And so the way it manifested itself is when we talked about, Well, how the heck did no Division I school give you a scholarship? The big-time schools, how’d they overlook you? Everything looked great at North Dakota State, and he wouldn’t change it. He loved it. And to see that bothered him. He loved North Dakota State, but he was like, ‘Yeah, I went to camps at this place and this place, and I was the best player at that camp,’ to see a little conviction and belief in himself, because you hear it, that was good.

 

“I joke around: I love nice football players, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for choir boys. We look for people who can win. You’ve got to have toughness; you’ve got to have that kind of chip on your shoulder.”

In the end, what coach Kyle Shanahan and Lynch saw on film, coupled with Lance's edge, showed the 49ers he was the right pick at No. 3 overall.

Lance, 20, still is raw and likely will need at least a year to develop, but he has all the tools to become one of the NFL's next big stars. To Shanahan, Lance has everything required to elevate his deadly offense to a level it has not yet reached under Jimmy Garoppolo or even Matt Ryan.

"I love his natural ability to play the position," Shanahan said of Lance. "Then when you add in a type of running element, which I've always been intrigued with, but when you've got a guy with the skillsets as far as speed and size, to where you're not going to make him a runner but if you can get in certain formations where the defense knows you will run him if they don't honor him, now everything is different. If you can ever get a guy like that and make 11-on-11 football then I think you got a guy who can change some things for you.

"But it always comes down to yeah, you can dabble in that, but you better be confident they can do everything else. He has played a year of football, it was at a smaller school, so that does take work. You're not going to see it all, so that's why it is a hard process and that's why there is no guarantees for any of us. So it's about believing."

RELATED: Lance, Jimmy G, Rodgers and the 49ers' QB what-ifs that remain

Lance will be compared against Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence for the entirety of his NFL career. With Lawrence and Wilson off the board, the 49ers had their pick between Lance, Jones and Fields, opting eventually to take a swing on the high upside of Lance.

Shanahan and Lynch pushed all of their chips into the middle of the table when they went up to acquire Lance. They could have stayed pat at No. 12, selected a quality player to bolster their defense or offensive line and ran it back with Jimmy Garoppolo, hoping the veteran quarterback would stay healthy in 2021.

Instead, they took control of their own destiny and did what was necessary to select their guy. If things fall apart, it will cost them their jobs.

But Lynch and Shanahan have ultimate faith in their process and in Lance's ability. The decision is over.

Now, the hard part begins.

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