Trey Lance, 49ers' Top QB Draft Targets After Trade with Dolphins for No. 3 Pick

Adam WellsMarch 26, 2021

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields runs against Alabama during the second half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

The San Francisco 49ers appear to be locked in on the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL draft.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 49ers are acquiring the No. 3 pick in this year's draft from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for pick No. 12, as well as a 2022 first-rounder and third-rounder and a 2023 first-rounder. 

It's widely expected that the top four picks in the draft will all be quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence seems like a lock to go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The New York Jets have been frequently connected to Zach Wilson. 

Schefter noted that San Francisco "did not trade up with one QB in mind" and is "good with the options that will be there at No. 3."

Assuming Lawrence isn't available, the most likely targets for the 49ers will include Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones. 

Regarding the Jets at No. 2 overall, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Thursday on SportsCenter (h/t Rich Cimini of ESPN) that it's "Wilson’s job to lose" based on how his pro day goes. 

BYU's pro day was being held on Friday with scouts and executives from various teams in attendance. 

Given how strong the connection between Wilson and the Jets has been, the 49ers' options will likely come down to Fields, Lance and Jones. 

Jones would seem to be the odd-man-out in that trio. The Alabama star seems like a safe bet to go in the first round, but the consensus among draft scouts and analysts is that he's the fifth-best quarterback in this class. 

Lance is something of a wild card simply because he only started one season at North Dakota State in 2019. He was fantastic with 2,786 yards passing and 1,100 yards rushing, and he accounted for 42 touchdowns with no interceptions in 16 games. 

Per ESPN's Todd McShay, Lance is "effective dropping from under center and selling play-action, and his downfield touch is strong, despite some inconsistent placement on shorter throws."

San Francisco's passing game under head coach Kyle Shanahan is at its best on play-action passes. When the team won the NFC West with a 13-3 record in 2019, the offense had the third-most passing yards in the league (1,473) on play-action. 

The potential problem for Lance in Shanahan's system, based on McShay's scouting report, is the inconsistent accuracy on short and intermediate throws. It's a similar issue that Jimmy Garoppolo has had during his tenure with the 49ers. 

Fields, on the other hand, would seem to check a lot of the boxes that Shanahan will be looking for.

Here's what NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah wrote about the Ohio State star in his most recent big board:

"Fields has good size, excellent arm strength and remarkable athleticism for the quarterback position. He has produced monster numbers both passing and rushing in the Buckeyes' spread system. He is at his best when he throws on time and in rhythm. The ball jumps out of his hand and he can deliver it accurately at all three levels."

Jeremiah noted that Fields has struggled at times trying to progress beyond his first read, which is another problem that has plagued Garoppolo. 

But Fields' athleticism and running ability is something that Garoppolo doesn't possess when a play breaks down. 

The 49ers have a roster capable of competing with anyone in the NFC if they can find stability at quarterback.

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch appear to have gone all-in on that position by giving up two future first-round picks with the hopes of finding a franchise guy. While they will have multiple options to choose from on draft day, Fields seems like the safest bet to be wearing a maroon-and-gold helmet when the 2021 season starts.