San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York said Wednesday he asked team legend Frank Gore to assess quarterback Trey Lance before the 2021 NFL draft.
York told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area that Gore was initially skeptical of taking a small-school prospect with the No. 3 overall pick—"You're not going to take a North Dakota State kid"—but returned from watching the game film and predraft interviews with a glowing assessment.
"You got to take Trey. This kid is amazing," Gore told York. "He can do so many things with Kyle's offense, and Kyle can take it to the next level with all the things you can do."
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan had already settled on Lance before Gore finished his review, but York explained the outside opinion helped firm his belief that it was the right choice.
"And Frank, 100 percent independent of it, felt the same way watching him on film and watching some of his interviews," he told Maiocco. "Again, it doesn't mean that we're right, but it's nice to know that people I respect and trust were on the same page."
The Niners, who'd made a blockbuster trade to acquire the third pick from the Miami Dolphins in March, proceeded to take Lance last Thursday to make him the future face of the franchise.
Shanahan isn't putting too much pressure on the rookie, saying it would be "very hard" for him to beat out veteran Jimmy Garoppolo for the Week 1 starting job, but it's only a matter of time before the 20-year-old Minnesota native is leading the offense.
Meanwhile, Gore is a free agent after leading the New York Jets in rushing last season at age 37. He spent 10 years with the 49ers from 2005 through 2014, and York told Maiocco he's basically an honorary member of the franchise while he waits to see whether another on-field opportunity arises.
"I think Frank is already a quasi-scout and an adviser to the organization," York said. "Frank is like a brother to me."
Once Gore's playing days conclude, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him sign a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Niners and then join the team in an official capacity.