Who's Trey Lance? 10 things to know about 49ers' top pick

/ by Dalton Johnson
Presented By Big O Tires
Trey Lance

It's time to get to know Trey Lance. 

At just 20 years old, Lance is the new big man on campus in the Bay Area after being selected by the 49ers with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But who exactly is the North Dakota State star quarterback? 

Coach Kyle Shanahan quickly fell in love with Lance's qualities as a quarterback and a person. He believes he's the perfect fit to be the 49ers' long-term QB. While we all wondered what the 49ers would do, Shanahan made it clear he has had his eyes on Lance since Day 1.

Still, Lance might have been the biggest mystery in the draft this season. He has played one game in the past 15 1/2 months, and the Bay Area isn't exactly filled with diehard North Dakota State fans. 

RELATED: 49ers earn high grade for taking big swing on QB Lance

So without further ado, from his many 49ers connections and more, here are 10 things to know about the Niners' newest QB. 

Mr. Accurate 

By now, 49ers fans probably know all about Lance going his entire redshirt freshman season without an interception. He threw 28 touchdowns that season and wasn't picked off once. He also set a new record while doing so. 

He holds the record for the most pass attempts in a season without an interception at 312. NDSU played just one game in 2020, and was intercepted against Central Arkansas but not until his 23rd pass attempt of the day. The Bison still came out with a win, and Lance scored four total touchdowns -- two passing and two rushing. 


What many people don't know is that Lance did play two games as a true freshman, and proved his precision right away. He completed his only pass attempt that season for a 12-yard gain. Lance also ran for two TDs in the two games he appeared in as a true freshman. 

Youth On His Side 

Lance is young. Real young. 

He doesn't turn 21 years old until May 9, meaning he must have had a whole lot of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider at his draft celebration. Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers' current starting quarterback, turns 30 in November. 

Here's where it really gets crazy. Tom Brady's NFL career, which is still going on, is older than Lance. Seriously. 

Brains and Brawn

Lance is more than just a student of the game. He also was quite the student in the classroom. 

He majored in strategic communication (not a bad thing to have as a QB) and minored in business administration. Lance also graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and was recruited by a handful of Ivy League schools. 

Throughout the draft process, Lance's smarts became more evident by the day. There's a reason Shanahan likened Lance to a CEO of a company. 

Complete Football Player

Lance is a full football player, to the nth degree. While he proved to be a pro prospect as a quarterback, most schools in high school recruited him to play everywhere else on the field.

The physical QB threw for 14 touchdowns as a senior in high school and also rushed for 10 more. It's the defense that really stands out, though. 

As a power-hitting safety, Lance recorded 54 tackles and three interceptions. He even blocked a field goal.

There's a reason many teams recruited him as a safety or receiver. But it's clear QB was the right call. 

Father's Brief Time With The 49ers 

Of all the quarterbacks in the draft this year, only one had a previous connection to the 49ers. That would be Lance. 

His father, Carlton, was a cornerback with the 49ers in 1994. Well, at least for two weeks in training camp. 

He was signed on July 22, 1994, and was waived two weeks later on Aug. 4, 1994.

Carlton played two seasons professionally, one in Canada and one in Europe, but never played in the NFL. He recorded four interceptions in two pro seasons, returning one for a touchdown. 

Kyle Shanahan-Carlton Lance Connection 

Just like Trey, Kyle Shanahan also had a connection to the 49ers long before officially joining the organization. 

His father, Mike, served as the 49ers' offensive coordinator/QBs coach in 1992 and 1993, and was the sole OC in 1994. As a kid, Kyle was the 49ers' ball boy in 1994. That just so happened to be the same year Carlton Lance was with the team for a short period of time. 



Niner The Dog 

Speaking of fate, the writing has been on the wall the whole time for Lance. Just look at his four-legged best friend

“I do have a dog named Niner,” Lance told reporters after the draft. “It’s more honestly because I wore No. 9, my dad wore No. 9, my brother wore No. 9 all throughout high school and and my dad wore it throughout his professional career.

"It works out great now, it’s got to be God. God did that.”

Jerry Rice Of The FCS

This isn't the first time the 49ers have taken a player out of the FCS in the first round of the NFL draft. See Rice, Jerry. 

Lance won the STATS Jerry Rice Award in 2019 as the top freshman player at the level. He became the first player to win the top FCS award as a freshman while also winning the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. 

The 49ers selected Rice with the No. 16 pick out of Mississippi Valley State in 1985. They hope Lance can be even as slice of how great Rice was for them. 

The Next Steve Young 

As a former BYU Cougar himself, Zach Wilson was the QB this year being compared the most to Young. But maybe it was Lance who should have been compared more to the former 49ers legend.

Young finished his BYU career with a 65.2 completion percentage and 18 rushing touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback. Lance left college with a 65.4 completion percentage and exactly 18 rushing TDs as well. 

Young started five games his first season in the NFL before becoming the full-time starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Year 2. He then spent years as Joe Montana's backup with the 49ers before becoming a superstar and eventual Hall of Fame QB. 

Lance is expected to be on a bit of the same path, sitting behind Garoppolo as a rookie. However, Shanahan has made it clear he "won't hesitate" to play Lance when he's ready. 

Football Family 

We know about Trey, now we know about Carlton. But it doesn't stop there for the Lance family. 

His younger brother, Bryce, is a receiver who signed to play for North Dakota State as well. He is a 6-foot-2, 160-pound receiver who is a three-star recruit

Future 49er? It wouldn't be the first time a Lance family member found his way to The Faithful. 

Download and subscribe to the 49ers Talk Podcast