The 49ers selected quarterback Trey Lance to replace Jimmy Garoppolo as the next quarterback of the 49ers.
That could be an awkward situation, especially if Garoppolo remains with the club through the season, as 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he anticipates.
But Lance told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday night he counts it as a huge benefit to enter the NFL as Garoppolo’s teammate.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know Jimmy and being able to spend some time with him,” Lance said. “And, obviously, he’s done it. Playing in a Super Bowl two years ago, there’s not too many rookie quarterbacks that get to go into a situation with a roster like they have there.”
Lance played just one game in the fall, as North Dakota State’s season was shifted to the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. Lance declared for the draft. He has played just one game in the past 15 1/2 months.
He starred for the Bison during their unbeaten 2019 season, throwing 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards.
Lance will face a steep learning curve as he makes the adjustment to the NFL game.
“I’m super excited to learn from Jimmy, get to know him, become close to him,” Lance said. “And, obviously, whatever my role is, I’m going to embrace it.
“I know we’re going to push each other every single day. But No. 1, I’m just super excited to get there and learn from him.”
The 49ers made the March 26 trade from No. 12 to move up to the third overall selection. Lance went through the entire process and got to know members of the 49ers organization, including coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones showed up on most mock drafts as the 49ers’ pick. Lance said he never gained much confidence during the process that he was going to be heading to the Bay Area.
“I don’t know if I ever got to that point where I was more than 50 percent sure,” he said. “It was kind of a coin flip in my head going into tonight. I wish I’d gotten some more information. I was thinking and kind of hoping in my head, maybe imagining, I’d get a little more information before everyone else. But it worked out exactly how it was supposed to.”
Lance did not receive the word directly from the 49ers until some time had elapsed on the clock following the top two selections of Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (New York Jets).
“I truly believed I’m right where I was supposed to be,” Lance said. “This process has been a huge blessing, and there’s no place I’d rather be.”