For a good portion of the offseason, we debated who the 49ers' backup quarterback would be. From Gardner Minshew to Teddy Bridgewater, if he was available, we pegged him to the Niners.
As free agency kicked off, reports surfaced that San Francisco would be “strong contenders” to land Andy Dalton, who was easily the most popular connection. Dalton ended up signing a one-year deal with the Bears, where he’ll now keep the seat warm for rookie Justin Fields.
According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, Kyle Shanahan was upset that Dalton got away:
You were one of the few who did not think it was a lock Mac Jones went third to SF. Now that SF has selected Trey Lance, is there anything you can add about the decision? Was it always Lance for Kyle Shanahan?
I was told from the day they traded to the third spot, it was Trey Lance and they would keep Jimmy Garoppolo around for another season. I said as much in an article the Sunday before the draft when we broke the news it was down to Lance and Mac Jones. During The Draft Insiders podcast at the start of April, I said it was premature to write Jones in as the third pick in mock drafts and I was ridiculed.
They wanted to sign Andy Dalton in free agency as their veteran quarterback and then trade Garoppolo and draft Lance. I’m told Shanahan was pretty upset when they did not land Dalton.
I stated all along Lance was the best fit for the Shanahan offense. He processes information quicker than Fields, and his arm strength and physical skills are light years ahead of Jones.
I’d start by saying you don’t get to pat yourself on the back for correctly guessing the 49ers weren’t going to select Mac Jones. It’s not a stretch to say Jones would have been the least talented player to go that high in NFL history. That, among other reasons, was why those rumors never made much sense.
The only way the Dalton rumors made sense was if the team planned on moving Jimmy Garoppolo. So, I can buy what Pauline is selling. Based on everything Shanahan has said during the past week, Trey Lance was going to be a 49er.
You want a veteran in your quarterback room who has starting experience. Nate Sudfield doesn’t fit that bill. Garoppolo and Dalton do. The 49ers could’ve saved about $15 million in cap space based on Dalton’s deal.
With that said, if Shanahan was upset, he has nobody to blame but himself. Dalton went on the record, saying he went to the Bears with the idea in mind that he could start in 2021. With Jimmy still on the roster during free agency, San Francisco couldn’t give Dalton that same guarantee. Plus, you have to imagine they didn’t offer Dalton the same amount of money that Chicago did.
I wouldn’t read too much into this report. It’s likely true, but imagine if we were to find out about each player Shanahan and the 49ers were upset about that got away. Another way to read this: team wanted to get cheaper at a position knowing they were going to invest heavily in a rookie QB who would serve as the face of their franchise.