The NFL Draft has officially come and gone. Below, you’ll read an outstanding story from NFL Network’s Jim Trotter detailing the 49ers process, including Jed York reaching out to Frank Gore to get his thoughts about who the Niners should select at quarterback.
My favorite moment from this draft weekend was the post-draft interview where S Talanoa Hufanga poured his heart out. Hufanga was grateful, passionate, and seemed like the type of person you can’t help but root for, no matter what team he’s playing on.
Smokescreens: It’s rare for anyone in the NFL to be able to keep a secret, so kudos to the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch for their ability to successfully keep the entire league guessing about their quarterback decision for nearly a month. You could certainly argue that the 49ers might not have had needed to be so secretive about their love for Trey Lance. But the fact that they allowed Mac Jones rumors to flourish for so long, to the dismay of 49ers fans, brought so much drama to a draft that had no mystery with the top two picks. Shanahan and Lynch put on a clinic for how to orchestrate a
Andy Dalton/Jimmy Garoppolo/Kirk Cousins: Rough weekend for some QB1s. The 49ers might say Garoppolo’s presence on the roster will allow Lance time to develop, and the Vikings might not be in a rush to play Kellen Mond. Still, it’s only a matter of time until the veterans lose their jobs.
“Jalen’s rehab is going well. We’re eager to get him back here, because he’s been rehabbing away. But we check in regularly, and he’s doing a nice job with his rehab, so we’re excited about that.
“I think Jalen’s always been a hard worker, and has just had some tough luck with that stuff. He’ll continue to work hard, and we think he’ll be ready to go.”
“He’s been here a lot this offseason, and he’s really looking good just out in workouts, which we’ll see once we get on the field,” Lynch said. “But Shon’s doing a nice job. We’re pleased with that.”
Interestingly, shortly after the trade was made, York phoned former 49ers running back Frank Gore and asked if he knew any of the top quarterback prospects. York and Gore have remained close since the running back left the franchise in 2015, after 10 seasons. York values his evaluation of players and wanted to know what Gore thought.
“Just take a look and let me know what you think,” York said, regarding Lance.
Weeks passed without any word. Until York’s phone rang Tuesday night. It was Gore. He wanted to talk, but York was putting down his kids for the night and didn’t answer. Then York’s phone pinged. It was a text from Gore.
“CALL ME,” it read, all caps.
Gore had watched the tape. Suffice it to say, he was wowed.
“You don’t give up all that for a pocket passer,” Gore told me. “You don’t give up all that and still need to call a perfect play for a guy. This guy can make plays even when the call ain’t perfect. He has a chance to be special in that offense.”
1st round (3rd overall)
Trade Grade: D
Pick Grade: C
Fans are understandably excited about Lance’s prospects in Shanahan’s offense. However, it’s hard to imagine the same excitement around the pick if Alabama’s Mac Jones hadn’t been so consistently tied to San Francisco. The fact is, heading into the college football season this past year, and following the national championship game, almost all analysts and prognosticators ranked Ohio State’s Justin Fields as the second-best quarterback prospect in the class. Lance was a worthy top-ten selection but seemed further away from NFL stardom.
Fields would have been the safest pick. He was the most proven quarterback prospect, aside from Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, and has both the big arm and blazing speed to be an All-Pro quarterback for years to come. Lance is a more talented runner, often looking like a running back or receiving tight end in highlights, but struggled with accuracy, and played far inferior competition at North Dakota State.
In the ’91 draft they picked Ricky Watters out of Notre Dame No. 45 overall, and Sheldon Canley from San Jose State with the No.193 selection.
Neither player suited up for the 49ers during their rookie seasons. Watters wound up having a nice career, including five trips consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl that started in 1992 when he first suited up for San Francisco. He was also a key member of their championship club in 1994. Canley only played one game in 1992 for the Jets.