Sean McVay Thought 49ers Traded Up in NFL Draft to Pick Kyle Pitts, Not Trey Lance

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2021

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts holds an Atlanta Falcons jersey after being chosen with the fourth pick in the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini

While most suspected the San Francisco 49ers were going to draft a quarterback at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL draft, Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay thought the team could pick Kyle Pitts.

The 49ers traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 in March, eventually taking North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance ahead of other top options like Justin Fields and Mac Jones. Pitts, the top non-QB playmaker on the board, was also still available, and McVay thought 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan might want to go that route.

The Rams coach explained his theory on the Flying Coach podcast (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com):

"I thought there was a possibility that Kyle was gonna go Pitts at three. In all seriousness, because he's such a visionary. I'm telling you, I didn't think it was going to be a crazy thought because you go back to when New England had the two-tight end set, and they were doing things totally different. You think about what [George] Kittle. And then, the thing that makes sense is that, hey, Jimmy [Garoppolo]'s produced all the way. This isn't a production thing. This is an availability thing that you're saying, 'We can't have that,' like, all the things."

The 49ers already have one of the top tight ends in the NFL in George Kittle, but adding Pitts would have given the offense another dimension while making the duo extremely difficult to defend.

Shanahan will instead look to build the offense around Lance, a dual-threat quarterback who already has several exciting targets in Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

Pitts was taken one pick later by the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4 overall.