Shanahan admits 49ers selecting Lance was a ‘mistake’

Shanahan admits 49ers selecting Lance was a ‘mistake’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers took their shot at drafting a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft and didn’t work out.

San Francisco selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick. Two-plus years and just four starts under center later, the 49ers decided to move on.

Lance was traded to the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 25 in exchange for a fourth-round pick, officially ending his tenure with the 49ers.

In an interview with KNBR 680’s Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto on Thursday, Shanahan agreed that Lance’s tenure with San Francisco ultimately was a series of unfortunate events that led to his relegation to the third-string quarterback before the trade.

“That’s exactly the deal, It didn’t work exactly the way all of us wanted it to and once you realize that it’s time to move on and we did for us and we did for him and I think we’re both in a much better position now,” Shanahan shared.

The 49ers traded three first-round picks to move up from the No. 12 overall pick to No. 3 and select Lance, which Shanahan, in hindsight, now admits was a mistake.

“When you move up and it doesn’t work out, that’s definitely a mistake,” Shanahan said. “But we did like our decisions when we looked into the two veterans that were available and we didn’t get that and we knew what way we were going to have to go two years from then. We knew we needed to go up and get a quarterback at that time.”

If the 49ers could go back in time, while they likely no longer would select Lance, their rationale for pursuing a quarterback at that time still holds up. Unfortunately for Shanahan and the 49ers, they chose the wrong one.

“We didn’t feel we’d be in a position the following year to have that option,” Shanahan explained. “One, in the draft and two, in free agency. And I think that was accurate, we ended up having the 29th pick in the draft the year after that and the following year and that would have been impossible to get up into a high pick to take a rookie quarterback.

“So that was the reasoning for, which I do get that, but this is the risk of it. We took a huge risk that didn’t work out in that way. That’s why I feel very fortunate we still have a rookie quarterback.”

Fortunately for San Francisco, they finally landed the franchise quarterback on a rookie deal they were searching for. All it took was a seventh-round pick, the final selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, a mere fraction of the draft capital spent to select Lance.

However, if the 49ers had not selected Brock Purdy, Lance might have been the starting quarterback again this season and potentially could have developed into the long-term answer at the position with a fully healthy campaign.

Would the 49ers’ outlook have been the same? We’ll never know.

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