Report: 49ers made trade to No. 3 with sights set on Justin Fields and Trey Lance

2021 NFL Draft
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As the 49ers created the impression that they’d allowed a presumably decisive, all-in move to No. 3 to become a neurotic shell game they were playing against themselves, Simms and I made a prediction on PFT Live: Once the pick is made, they’ll bust their asses to get out the word that whoever they take was their guy all along.

That’s precisely what they’ve done. It’s precisely what they should do, even if it’s not the truth.

A new item from Jim Trotter of NFL Media gently suggests that it’s not the truth. Per Trotter, the 49ers made the move to No. 3 with the goal of performing “deep dives on [Trey] Lance and [Justin] Fields and . . . confident of getting either, if that’s where the evaluation process took them.” Per Trotter, “Jones was considered a safety net, if you will, someone they could win a title with but not necessarily a transcendent talent, because he lacks the mobility to consistently turn off-schedule plays into something positive.”

That seems to be what coach Kyle Shanahan is now looking for, even if he had to be persuaded to look for it. Four years after he didn’t give Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson the time of day, ostensibly due to Shanahan’s belief that he’d sign on-schedule-only quarterback Kirk Cousins the following spring but possibly because Shanahan only wants quarterbacks who run the play that’s called without improvisation, Shanahan decided (perhaps after seeing what Mahomes did with seven minutes left in Super Bowl LIV) to embrace the notion of improvisation.

Still, plenty of people around the league believe Shanahan went into the process wanting Jones and eventually being persuaded by one or more of his colleagues to pivot to Lance.

The pivot to Lance was influenced in part by input from a former 49ers running back. Owner Jed York told Trotter than York sought an assessment from Frank Gore. Per Trotter, “weeks passed” after video was sent to Gore, and then Gore suddenly responded to York, with all-caps urgency.

“You don’t give up all that for a pocket passer,” Gore told Trotter. “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.”

To justify giving up three first-round picks and a third-round pick to get Lance, he needs to provide more than a chance of being special. Especially since, given the way the board fell, they quite possibly would have gotten him at No. 12, keeping a pair of first-round picks and the third-rounder.

While it’s impossible to prove that Lance would have still been there (maybe the Bears would have taken him instead of Fields, for example, after trading up to No. 11), the 49ers paid a hefty price for certainty. That fact — coupled with the Wednesday night wild-hair effort to trade it all and more for Aaron Rodgers — puts even more pressure on Lance to be the guy the 49ers now hope he will be, and on Shanahan to make Lance into that guy.

42 responses to “Report: 49ers made trade to No. 3 with sights set on Justin Fields and Trey Lance

  1. If the Niners pick was strongly influenced or decided by a former running back, they are in worse shape than I imagined. The team made a huge mistake here and gave up their future on roll of the dice. To justify what they gave up, Lance is going to have to be on Mahommes’ level. Lance has never faced a defense even as strong as a mid-tier SEC team. Now he’s going against the Rams, Cardinals, and Seahawks. This will likely go down as worse than the RGIII trade that set back Washington for a decade. I can’t believe Shanahan pushed for this.

  2. Because Fields and Jones are far more advanced in experience, far more pro-ready and tried against top competition, The 49ers most likely just sold out their future on a very high risk that surely will get the HC and GM fired soon!

  3. What’s funny is how you complained that the NFL wanted the 49ers to keep the third pick quiet to build the drama for the draft show, yet have no problem milking that “drama” for multiple reports.

  4. It’s safe to say that the 49ers traded up and had absolutely NO CLUE who they really wanted or were drafting. Enter Fields, Lance, Rogers, Jones….it’s apparent at some point they truly considered to acquire one of those QB’s.

  5. So you’re paying Shanahan, Lynch, and a whole bunch of scouts specifically to evaluate guys and yet you reach out to Frank Gore (????) for advice???

    Wow. Just wow. This is not going to end well.

  6. This almost sounds like Lynch leaked this to cover his ass in case Fields is great in Chicago.

  7. The Niners had to have believed there were only 3 QB’s in this draft. You never trade to 3 , then evaluate. They might have been better off in the long run with the draft capitol and Jones or Fields , even if they thought they were a bit inferior. But Carolina and Denver were wild cards.

    The Darnold/Brigewater deals kind of proved that there were 1 , maybe 2 QB’s in this draft or if 3, he was going to the Niners. Otherwise Fields and Jones would have been picked 8 and or 9.

    Did the Niners panic? Easy to say that in retrospect but maybe Lance WAS #3 and Carolina and Denver might have proved that. Neither team will ever admit it, so only those involved will know .

  8. I’m gonna laugh so hard if Mond turns out to be the best QB from this draft like Russ turned out better than Luck and RG3

  9. Trey Lance will become a superstar under Kyle Shanahan. Haters gonna hate!

  10. I hope it works out, but the decks are stacked against the kid. He has like 300 snaps at North Dakota State under his belt. Grown men in the NFL won’t wait for you to learn for years. Trading three picks for that uncertainty is kind of insane.

  11. They overpaid for the pick but they can be held responsible for the media speculation about who they were taking. They were never trading 3 firsts for a guy in the Jimmy G mold and Frank Gore is an all time great but he’s not swaying anything.

    There’s a possibility Carolina or Denver take Lance when they passed on Fields although 2 firsts is still too much to move up.

    Look, San Francisco under Shanahan has repeatedly burned draft capital moving up for their guy. (Pettis, Joe Williams). He hasn’t learned anything yet. So criticize him for the trade but not for the foolish media speculation about the pick because they were never moving up for Mac Jones.

  12. Both guys are great athletes. Neither are QB’s. Kyle Shanahan is a brilliant offensive coach. I’m not doubting Shanahan. I know Kyle can do things with less of a QB. He’s gotten two teams to super bowls with average QB’s. If anyone can pull this off, it’s Kyle. It will be exciting to see how he manages this kid. The kid has off the charts physical talent. Tom Brady is perhaps the worst physical talent QB, but has seven rings. I’ve always felt Mike Shanahan was one of the best coaches of all time, and Kyle is the same. Trey Lance definitely went to the right team.

  13. Man if Lance nose dives and fields and jones succeed this will go down worst trade and pick ever.

  14. I really like Gore’s perspective. After picking a formulaic QB you must send in the right formulaic play. Doubles your odds for mediocrity. It’s a gunslinger’s league and gunslingers will dominate, Belichick’s pick to the contrary…

  15. If they really wanted Jones they did not have to move up to where they did in order to get him. Remember that Lynch and the Niners’ were all gaga over getting Reuben Foster at the end of the first round like he was a gem. Right, out of the league now for the most part. All the time and effort that goes in to the draft evaluations makes you wonder what some of these teams are thinking when they draft some of these guys who, for the most part, anyone out there could pick utilizing half the time they do in evaluating.

  16. Trey Lance is going to be a great quareterback. HE is goingto have the rare luxury (just like Mahomes) of sitting behind a veteran quarterback as he lears the complicated Shanahan system.

    Lance is the smartest of the quarterbacks in the draft. He’s fast and he’s accurate. The big knock on Lance was that he didn’t play in 2020. When asked about that, Shanahan said that he’s glad that Lance didn’t play in 2020. If he had played in 2020, he likely would have been taken with the first or second pick in the draft,and the Niners would not be able to get him.

    The draft grades that the press gives ot during hand after the draft are almost always wrong. We’ll see what happens with Lance over the next few years. Until then, choosing Lance will light a fire under Garoppolo. If Garoppolo plays great and stays healthy….wonderful. If not, there’s a replacement that will be chomping at the bit, waiting to play.

  17. Well, Lynch should be fired if this is true. Pay close attentiion why the Pats are the best run franchise in all of sports.

    Unreal stupidity all over Rd 1 all throughout the league.

  18. People bagging on frank gore should go back and research. He has a sharp football mind and trusted for his judgement even in the days he played for the niners.
    Time will tell but you cannot fault the niners brass aiming for greatness.
    As one great coach said ‘No risk it no biscuit’

  19. Probably part of a shrewd ploy to tank and get the top pick in the next couple of drafts so you can really maximize your first round dra…. oh, wait, never mind….

  20. But they still had their choice between both of those guys… and took Lance.

  21. SF can’t admit they paid a King’s Ransom for a spot in the draft, and not a specific guy, when the two other QBs they considered went 10+ picks down from them in round1.

  22. Jones: 77% completions, 40+ TDs, 4 interceptions. Played big in the biggest games.

    Moves well in the pocket, makes quick reads, and has a quick release.

    Of course SF considered him.

  23. I don’t understand this devaluation of pocket passers since the majority of Super Bowls are won by, you know, pocket passers. People are always assuming the worst and thinking the pocket will collapse and what a QB can do after that. Well, great QBs go the other direction, get rid of the ball BEFORE the pocket collapses and you do that by studying film, reading defenses, processing information quickly.

    I’m rooting for Mac Jones.

  24. Pocket passers are just fine, as long as they can move enough to escape the rush. But mobile QBs, like Mahomes and Wilson give teams more options and pose more problems for defenses.

    Mac Jones going to the Pats makes sense. Jones is very Brady-like.

  25. I’d be curious to know what gave Lance the nod over Fields in that war room.

  26. The 49ers will have to take a bag of balls and a ticking tee for Jimmy G right now as they have to get out from under that contract because that is about all they are going to be offered.

  27. If you listened to Kyle Shanahan’s post game presser after the Bills loss he stated a shift in how he looks at QBs then. Mac Jones didn’t fit his vision of his QB as he stated it after the Bills loss. Justin Fields and Trey Lance fits that vision so Trotter’s report makes sense.

  28. Olyhawkguy says:

    May 1, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Probably part of a shrewd ploy to tank and get the top pick in the next couple of drafts so you can really maximize your first round dra…. oh, wait, never mind…


    Maybe you can lecture us on what 1st round picks you’re team is going to use after trading for a Safety who can’t cover – oh wait ….

  29. Skeeyup Bayless loves Lance. That, more than anything else, ie a major red flag..

  30. You guys were wrong on Jones, wrong about how this scenario played out, and you’re wrong on Garappolo. It’s cool guys, we’ll still read your site.

  31. The 49ers basically had a dart board with the remaining QB names on it and threw a dart. It landed on Lance.

  32. Could’ve just paid sticker price, they decided to blow a lot more draft capital for no reason. Competing teams are always close to the cap, the next 2 years they will wish they had those firsts to solve a problem with a talented, young, cost efficient solution. Not a good draft for 49ers and I don’t care how many different ways they are spinning it to claim it is.

  33. And for me lance reminds me of Marriota. Mobility, arm strength, character. I believe he’s now on team 2, or is it 3. Mobility does NOTHING for you if the ball doesn’t get there. And he’s got speed, but so do OLB, SS and I don’t think run for running sake is better than run to get a chance to pass and he shows promise, but not enough for that price tag. I don’t think he’s more than the usual coin flip will he, won’t he work out. And that’s not worth 3 firsts. In my opinion

  34. ” Not a good draft for 49ers and I don’t care how many different ways they are spinning it to claim it is.”

    Luckily, the Niners don’t care about your opinion. THey were in a Superbowl in 2020 When was your team in the Super Bowl last?

  35. I’d be amazed if anyone believed some of the stuff in this article. First of all, Kyle Shanahan runs the show, and if he’s getting any input on his QB, it’s coming from his dad. I mean, it’s a cute story about Frank Gore. But he’s saying you don’t give all that up for a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady type? You’d rather have an RG3 type? Ok. I don’t even believe Frank Gore said that. We keep hearing with our ears how the NFL is going to athletic QB’s but we keep seeing with our eyes Tom Brady winning another super bowl. Even Mahomes is a pocket passer. He’s just an athletic pocket passer. If 49ers fans remember Joe Montana, he was like Mahomes. He could extend plays with his athleticism, but he was just buying more time until Dwight Clark and others could get open. These guys can run for an easy first down, but they’re not winning because of their feet. They’re winning because of their brains.

  36. Lance8

    Aww, I’m not surprised the 49ers don’t care about my opinion. I’m surprised you seem to be under the illusion that someone cares about yours

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