It started with the film.
It ended in a boardroom with the 49ers’ selection of a player and person who coach Kyle Shanahan believes could lead a company.
And that is exactly what the 49ers envision for rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who turns 21 years old on May 9.
Finally, Shanahan allowed himself to speak publicly about the quarterback he said he targeted early in the draft process.
“I could talk about that for a while, because it goes into so many different areas,” Shanahan began when asked about the attributes that drew him to the former North Dakota State sensation.
Despite playing only one game in the past 15 1/2 months, his one season as a starter at the NCAA FCS level was one for the ages. Lance threw 28 touchdown passes with no interceptions. He rushed for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Bison were undefeated national champions.
“It always starts with me with the film,” Shanahan said. “I try to watch a guy play the quarterback position -- how he executes his own offense. Just kind of the natural feeling he has for the quarterback position, which, that part entails getting the ball to the right spots.”
Shanahan scrutinized Lance’s reactions. If nobody was open or he came under pressure before a play developed, how did Lance respond? Did he panic? Did he remain composed?
“I loved his natural ability to play the position, which was very impressive,” Shanahan said.
If Lance were unable or choppy in making plays from the pocket, the time spent on his evaluation might have not lasted too long.
But once Shanahan was duly impressed with what he saw from Lance as a passer, he began to admire his other attributes. Shanahan began to contemplate the possibilities of forcing defenses to play 11-on-11 with the quarterback being a true weapon as a running threat.
“Then when you add on a type of running element, which I've always been intrigued with, but when you've got a guy who's got the skill sets, as far as speed and size to where you're not going to make them a runner, but if you can get in certain formations where the defense knows you will run them, if they don't honor them, now everything's different,” Shanahan said.
Physically, there was no question about Lance’s ability to play good football. But Shanahan had to consider the facts that Lance played at a smaller school and there were no recent games to review in order to keep up on his progress.
Height. Weight. Speed.
Check. Check. Check.
“Then you try to get to know the person, and that's what was really cool about where we got that,” Shanahan said.
The 49ers had already signaled their intention to select a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. They made it known publicly that they were also seriously considering Justin Fields of Ohio State and Mac Jones of Alabama.
And with the first two draft picks widely known to be Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the 49ers -- particularly, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch -- felt free to be seen at pro days and do their homework in public view.
“I didn't have to be sneaky with trying to know someone where he could know I was trying to get to know him,” Shanahan said. “I could say a lot of stuff to him. I could be very upfront with him and I got to know him.”
And that is where Lance closed the deal.
“He's a guy that I think is a very good person, comes from a very good family,” Shanahan said. “I think he is very impressive in terms of his intellect, how he deals with people, how he just handles the social situation and I looked at him as a CEO of a company.
“This is someone that I believe in and I want to go to work with.”