Charles McDonald of For the Win wrote a fantastic article about Trey Lance that every 49er fan should read. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows also had a nice nostalgia piece about the Niners ‘11 draft.
Second round, No. 36: QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Early on in the draft process, the 49ers were linked to passers like Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker in what was billed as a quarterback-rich draft. The 49ers, however, began zeroing in on two passers: Kaepernick and TCU’s Andy Dalton.
Kaepernick became the top target following a March workout with Harbaugh and Baalke in Reno. Kaepernick had other suitors, including the Raiders, with whom he had a top-30 visit. The 49ers, who originally had pick No. 45, tried to trade with the Packers at No. 32 so they could take Kaepernick at the end of the first round. They also were close to a trade with the Patriots at pick No. 33, but that deal fell through.
After the Bengals took Dalton at No. 35, the 49ers dealt three picks to the Broncos to move up nine spots to select Kaepernick at No. 36.
Lance’s ability to run play action at a high level, and win on deep shots down the field, is why he’s being linked to teams like the 49ers and Falcons at the top of the draft. A lot of the concepts that make their way into Kyle Shanahan’s and Arthur Smith’s offenses were heavily incorporated by North Dakota State’s offense. According to Derrik Klassen of NBC Sports EDGE Football, Lance rolled out on 18.5% of his dropbacks.
Lance isn’t a passer who is afraid to throw with bodies around, which is an important trait he’ll need at the next level. NFL pockets obviously won’t be as clean as the ones he played in at the FCS level, so it’s good that he’s already shown this trait.
“I think he’s a great decision-maker with the football, as evidenced by his touchdown-to-interception ratio. Now, he’s not perfect. He’s going to force some throws. He’s still developing.
“I love his mobility. I love his ability to stand in the pocket and throw it, and then get out of the pocket, be creative, keep his eyes up the field, keep the ball in a throwing position, remain a threat as a passer to get the ball downfield late with accuracy and still have the ability to tuck it and run and make critical yards if he needs to. You’ve seen him make some tremendous runs. I wouldn’t characterize him as a running quarterback. I would characterize him as a really great quarterback who can also threaten you with his legs.
Jonathan Jones, senior reporter:
Trey Lance. If they’re serious about keeping Jimmy G for 2021, let Shanahan groom Lance to take over in a seamless transition. He’d flourish in that offensive system, as he has the best blend of brains and brawn in this class.
Cody Benjamin, NFL writer:
Draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance. Mac Jones may prove everyone wrong five or 10 years from now, and his characteristics might make him a quicker, safer sell in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But Fields or Lance have the tools to be weapons rather than just point guards. The gut says San Francisco knows this, which is why it moved to No. 3, not No. 6 or No. 9.
John Breech, NFL writer:
If we assume that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are going off the board with the first two picks, I think Justin Fields is the best fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system out of the quarterbacks who will be left on the board.
“How organized things were. I said, well, ‘What’d you guys do?’ And he said, ‘This is what we covered. This is what we ran,’ ” Sarkisian said. “And I was like, Wow. Most guys go out and they throw some go-balls and some posts. And he’s running plays, they worked on audibles. I mean, he was working on all sorts of things because it was important to him. And then it became really important to them.”
And over time, Sarkisian saw that surface because of how Jones’s teammates felt about him, something that’s come up as his receivers have been asked, pre-draft, if they’d prefer to bring Jones or Tagovalioa with them to their pro teams.
“He didn’t blink,” Sarkisian said. “He cut it loose every time. … The first drive of the Texas A&M game early in the year, we had a third down and he had an alert to a big post to [John] Metchie that we probably hadn’t thrown in two years in practice and/or games. And the look presented itself versus A&M. And he didn’t blink.”