Why Shanahan changed his mind about trading first-round picks


First-round draft pick are a monumental factor in teams constructing a Super Bowl-caliber roster -- or so you thought. 

After trading three first-round picks to move up to select quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the 49ers are without a top pick each of the next two years. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan joined "The TK Show" Podcast, where he discussed some of the motivating factors behind the decision to part with so much draft capital. 

“Watching guys in our division trade their first-round picks away," Shanahan said. "Seattle just traded two first-round picks away for a safety, a very good one [Jamal Adams]. The Rams have done it for a corner [Jalen Ramsey], they’ve done it for a quarterback [Matthew Stafford]. Three years prior to that, they did it every single year for a receiver whether it was Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins. 

"I didn’t see it as monumental as everyone else did. I probably would have 10 years ago, but I watched people make these decisions the last few years, and it’s grown on me. It isn’t the biggest risk in the history of football like I always thought growing up."

Both the Rams and Seahawks aggressive (and expensive) pursuit of top talent showed Shanahan that an organization can part with such draft capital, and still compete year-in and year-out. 


"Just watching the success the Rams and Seattle have had, when we knew we could move up to get a quarterback, it pumped me up. Especially to do it early, because then you can lay out a plan and which direction you want to go, whether it’s free agency and the rest of the draft."

Another motivating factor for the 49ers was the financial flexibility a rookie quarterback contract gave the team moving forward, especially after such a financially straining time across the league. 

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"The salary cap is a big, huge part of all this, and John [Lynch] and I had a huge plan trying to build this team and we were going to go into our fourth year building this team expecting to have a $230 million [salary cap] and then all of a sudden it’s [$180 million].

"Having $50 million taken out of what your plans had been over three years changes a lot of stuff. Then when you have an opportunity to get a rookie quarterback the way that it is with the contracts, it felt like it could give us a chance to build this thing right again over these next four years and makes it a lot easier to do it.”

Championship-caliber teams make big moves, and that's exactly what the 49ers did this spring.

Now, we wait to see if they made the right move. Only time will tell...

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