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Todd McShay explains why he thinks 49ers should select Trey Lance

The ESPN draft pundit believes the North Dakota State QB has the highest ceiling, but still thinks the Niners will go with Mac Jones.

Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have completed their trio of trips to watch the three QB prospects that will likely be available when they make the third overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have seen Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance throw in person and now have a little more than a week to make their final decision.

Most draft pundits have the Niners going with Jones, but the case against picking the Alabama product is that he doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Fields and Lance.

Lynch and Shanahan made the trip to North Dakota State on Monday to see Lance’s second pro day.

ESPN’s Todd McShay was on The Rich Eisen Show and raved about Lance’s ability, saying he would select the 20-year-old with the third pick.

“I would take Trey Lance. I’m just going to be honest,” McShay said. “I would take Trey Lance of North Dakota State. I think that he has the highest ceiling of the other quarterbacks after the top two, but I keep hearing — the intel I keep getting is that Mac Jones is going to be the pick.”

Lance, who played in Division I-AA, has been getting the least hype to be the Niners’ selection. He only started one season for the Bisons, which came as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Lance threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in North Dakota’s 39-28 win over Central Arkansas in an exhibition game that took place in October of 2020.

Lance is listed at 6’4, 226 pounds. He has all of the physical tools to be a high-level NFL quarterback, but some scouts believe he still needs some seasoning before being ready to be a pro starter.

That would fit with what Shanahan and Lynch said their plans are for the 2021 season. After they made the trade to move up, Lynch and Shanahan stated that they intend to keep incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo for at least next season. This would give a prospect like Lance some time to develop and learn Shanahan’s complex offense.

“He’s built like a tight end,” McShay said about Lance. “He’s strong. He’s so competitive. He extends plays. He has a big-time arm. His biggest issue is that he, mechanically, his footwork is not where it needs to be, and footwork equals ball placement. I mean, that’s how it works.

“He needs to go somewhere where he can probably sit for a year, and that’s why I think San Francisco at three makes sense. Atlanta at four makes sense. Where you can sit behind a Jimmy Garoppolo for a year or a Matt Ryan and have the time to work on the things that he needs to work on.

“When I watch him, I just see so much potential. I just think that he has a chance to be a star in the league, but he needs the right development.”

But as McShay said, he keeps hearing that San Francisco will go with Jones, although he doesn’t necessarily think that’s who the 49ers will take.

“I keep hearing (that the Niners will go with Jones), but it’s hard to buy it, to be completely honest,” McShay said. “I keep looking at this, and I think about Kyle Shanahan watching Matt Ryan getting out of field-goal position in the (Super Bowl loss to the Patriots) and losing that Super Bowl, and then watching Patrick Mahomes run around in the second half (of Super Bowl LIV) and extend plays with that mobility.

“And I know that he wants football intelligence, and I know what he’s had before, but to me, don’t you want someone that you can develop and have the higher ceiling? It’s going to be fascinating to see (what they do).”

McShay ranked the available QBs like this: 1) Trevor Lawrence, 2) Zach Wilson, 3) Trey Lance, 4) Justin Fields, 5) Mac Jones.

It’s widely expected that the Jacksonville Jaguars will go with Lawrence and that Robert Saleh and the New York Jets will go with Wilson.

There has been nothing but speculation since the 49ers completed the deal with the Miami Dolphins. It looks like that will keep until San Francisco is officially on the clock on April 29.