I have been saying for weeks that the 49ers pick at No. 3 would determine the power structure within the NFC West for at least the next four years. Now we know San Francisco has gone all in on North Dakota State's Trey Lance.
Lance played just 16 career games in college given the Bison had their 2020 season cancelled (save for one game) due to COVID-19. The athletic 6-foot-4 QB has all the tools to be a franchise signal caller despite his lack of game experience at North Dakota State. Adam Schefter reported that the 49ers viewed Lance as the smartest quarterback in this year's draft class.
"It was really emotional," Lance said during an interview with ESPN. "I'm just super thankful."
Now the big question is whether or not Lance will start immediately for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo is still on San Francisco's roster and could retain the job for the time being, especially when you consider Lance's lack of recent game experience. Lance said he's excited to learn from Garoppolo and views him as a mentor.
Most rookie quarterbacks, especially those taken in the top five, serve as the foundation for what projects to be a multi-year rebuild. That isn't so for Lance, who has the benefit of joining a roster that is already loaded and ready to compete for a championship immediately. He'll also be aided by having Kyle Shanahan by his side every step of the way. Shanahan's presence automatically increases the floor of any quarterback he works with given his offensive acumen and play calling expertise.
Lance joins Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray as the franchise quarterbacks in the NFC West. It should continue to be one of the best divisions in football.
San Francisco invested three first-round picks in order to trade up from No. 12 to No. 3 and select Lance. If they picked correctly, the 49ers will be a Super Bowl favorite for years to come. If they got it wrong and Lance doesn't flourish into the franchise QB they envision, the 49ers will be in serious trouble with limited draft capital to atone for their mistake.
No pressure, rook.