Trey Lance did not need Frank Gore’s stamp of approval.
But CEO Jed York felt just that much better about the selection after hearing from the former 49ers running back in the days leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft.
After the 49ers made the March 26 trade to move up to No. 3 overall, York said he reached out to Gore to ask what he thought of the quarterbacks who were under consideration.
“I know Frank trains with a lot of people, and this is a weird year where our scouts really didn’t have the opportunity to do as much in person,” York said. “And I asked him if he knew any of the guys.”
Gore said he was familiar with Justin Fields of Ohio State and Mac Jones of Alabama. York asked Gore to take a look at Lance.
“You’re not going to take a North Dakota State kid," Gore told York.
Some time passed and Gore finally got back to York with his assessment of Lance. By that time, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan had already told York that Lance would be the pick.
York said he kept the secret from Gore, who came back with a glowing assessment of Lance.
Gore’s evaluation, according to York: “You got to take Trey. This kid is amazing. He can do so many things with Kyle’s offense, and Kyle can take it to the next level with all the things you can do.”
Many of the things Gore told York were similar to how Lynch and Shanahan explained the decision.
“And Frank, 100 percent independent of it, felt the same way watching him on film and watching some of his interviews,” York said. “Again, it doesn’t mean that we’re right, but it’s nice to know that people I respect and trust were on the same page.”
Gore, who turns 38 on May 14, is a 16-year NFL veteran who is a free agent. He spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers after entering the league as a third-round draft pick in 2005.
Gore ranks third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 16,000 yards — 726 yards behind Walter Payton for second place.
When Gore’s career is over, he will retire as a member of the organization, both he and York have said in the past.
Even though he has played for four different teams over the past six seasons, Gore is still very much associated with the 49ers.
“I think Frank is already a quasi-scout and an advisor to the organization,” York said. “Frank is like a brother to me.”