In the end, Trey Lance was the 49ers' choice to be their quarterback of the future.
In fact, Lance was always the choice to be the No. 3 overall pick. That was as true when the 49ers started their draft process as it was Thursday when they called his name.
"No it's not," Shanahan said when asked if Lance came on late to overtake Mac Jones as the 49ers' preferred pick. "We can go back to January for the timeline which we don't have enough time to go through. But this is something that started since our season ended and our evaluation of people, starting with where we thought people were going to be available, whether we thought people were going to be on the trade markets, everything. We've been very high on Trey from the beginning. From Day 1.
"Yes, the person everyone else is speculating about we liked him too. But it was just, honestly to go through this whole process where nobody -- my friends, coaches, anybody -- how John and I feel and have felt this whole time and we do that because we don't want to sway people in this building, you want everyone to just work their butts off and give you their honest info."
Shanahan noted the 49ers had Lance in mind when they made their blockbuster move up to the No. 3 spot in the draft but wanted to do their due diligence.
"When we made the trade, we knew exactly where we were going and what we were doing," Shanahan said. "Now, we wanted an opportunity to go look at everybody."
From the minute the 49ers made the trade, rumors started to swirl that Jones was the 49ers' preferred target, rumors Shanahan was more than happy to let run amuck, although he admits taking Jones was an option.
"I was in Mexico the day we made the trade, and within hours there are at least two people who out there speculating that their opinions are they think we are taking Mac Jones," Shanahan said. "Ever since then I've kind of just watched every single person assume that those weren't opinions and that those were facts. And we didn't feel that way from the beginning. I wouldn't say there was no chance we wouldn't have. We were going to go through this process.
"I wouldn't have ever said it couldn't have ended up being him. But I knew how we felt about Trey the whole time."
Lance, 20, has elite arm talent and top-level athleticism that will make a real threat in the quarterback run game. However, with just 17 collegiate starts under his belt, the assumption is that he will need time to sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo, develop and allow Shanahan to mold him into the star quarterback he is capable of becoming.
In Lance, Shanahan has a quarterback who has all the tools to orchestrate his offense at a high level. It will take time for Lance to reach his absurdly high ceiling, but Shanahan clearly is excited to finally have his guy.
"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."
Believe in Lance, the 49ers do. They always have.