49ers' Kyle Shanahan Praises Trey Lance, Explains What Worries Him About QB

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2021

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, right, holds a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the San Francisco 49ers with the third pick in the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

If it wasn't already clear by the San Francisco 49ers giving up three first-round picks to trade up for No. 3 overall NFL draft pick, Kyle Shanahan is making it very clear he's enamored with their selection of Trey Lance.

The San Francisco 49ers coach spoke to Peter King of NBC Sports about what drew him to Lance, and, well, it was pretty much everything about the North Dakota State quarterback:

"His natural ability to play the quarterback position, just in terms of how he plays in the pocket, how he can go through the progressions, how, when no one's open, that he gives it a chance, that he recognizes it. And how quick he reacts to turning it into an off-schedule play. He plays on tape like he’s a very poised, smart person who’s been playing the position for a while.

"Then you look into the other attributes, and you’re like 'Oh, I haven’t even gotten to the running skill set.' I haven't gotten to the upside of how much better he can get, the more he plays. That’s what made me like him so much right away."

Shanahan acknowledged that Lance's relative lack of experience does cause him some concern. Lance threw only 318 passes at the college level and was a starter for just one season, and he did so at the FCS level. Shanahan said the trepidation from those outside about Lance's competition level and experience were "real things" he had to work through during the evaluation process.

However, Lance's intelligence and preparedness in interviews made him comfortable with what he saw on tape:  

"He's extremely intelligent. He knows how to handle situations. He knows how to carry himself. The guy that I see on tape that I tried to describe that I see such a natural quarterback, such a smart player. Well, if I never saw the tape, and I got to hang out with him first, I would've felt that same way with him as a person and been like, 'Man, I hope the tape matches this person!' You know? That's kind of what was cool about it. The first time you watch the tape, 'Man, hell yeah!' But no decision's set in stone in January. That's how I felt in January when I saw him. But I was going to do the process right. Watch everybody. Every guy. I can always spend two hours and get myself to like anyone. Then, I go to the time getting myself to not like him. And I see what ends up sticking. That's what was cool about him through the process at the end. No matter what I tried to do to say, It's too risky!, all that stuff kind of went away the more I got to know the person. I went back to how I originally felt about the tape."

The 49ers are expected to bring Lance on slowly, with Jimmy Garoppolo expected to open camp as the starter. Despite speculation the team would move Garoppolo before the 2021 NFL draft, he remained on the roster as seemingly no team was willing to give up strong enough draft compensation to make a move.