Former No. 3 pick Harrington has simple advice for Lance

Trey Lance

Joey Harrington knows the pressure that comes with being a top pick and anointed face of a franchise.

The former Oregon star was drafted by the Detroit Lions at No. 3 overall during the 2002 NFL Draft. As Trey Lance, who the 49ers selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, begins his NFL journey, Harrington has some advice for the future of San Francisco's franchise.

"Be ready," Harrington told NBC Sports Bay Area. "Be ready in a lot of different ways. Be ready to step on the field. Be ready to lead this team. Be ready to struggle, but be ready to learn from that. There is a confidence that comes from feeling like you are prepared, from feeling like you've got it covered. Like, 'I've done everything I possibly can and I'm ready.' That confidence is the difference between success and failure. It truly is. The guys who can go take their lumps, yet maintain that confidence, are the guys who end up on the other side, who have success down the road.

"The guys who aren't able to -- the guys who have it affect their mentality, affect their decision-making, their timing, their confidence. Those are the guys who continue to struggle. Because I always tell everybody you can go down a roster. When I was playing everyone kept three quarterbacks, now it's two, let's call it 64, 32 teams, 75 players who are quarterbacks. Everyone one of those guys can make every single throw on any field at any time. That's the reality.


"I always laugh at the guys who sit at home and say, 'Oh, I could have made that throw' or 'That guy sucks.' I'm sorry, that guy who "sucks" to you, is one of the 50 best people in the world at what he does. I guarantee you're not the 50th best high school teacher in the world. But it's not a physical difference between Trey and Jimmy, between success and failure.

"Everybody can make every throw. It's what happens up here, and what happens in here [heart], and how the experience you have early in your career affects and shapes your ability to be a confident player. And that is 100 percent the key to any successful quarterback. Because every person out there has the physical skills to do it. It's whether they can keep things right up here, and keep things right in here"

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Harrington was drafted into a bad situation in Detroit and his career never took off the way it was supposed to.

Lance enters the NFL in the perfect situation for a rookie quarterback. He has an offensive mastermind at head coach in Kyle Shanahan, who will make the game easier for him and will feel little pressure initially as he opens the season at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jimmy Garoppolo.

Expectations are high for Lance, and he already has shown glimpses of why the 49ers drafted him at No. 3 overall. The North Dakota State product likely will see his first real NFL action Sunday as the 49ers reportedly are ready to unveil their Lance package in their season-opener against the Lions.

There's no doubt that Lance will be ready if called on.

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