Cowboys Make Surprise Trade for 49ers QB Trey Lance: Report

Trey Lance

Getty Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance delivers a pass during an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys just made waves in the world of the NFL on Friday, August 25, bringing San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance to Dallas via trade. Lance was recently listed as the No. 3 quarterback on San Francisco’s depth chart and was apparently shopped around this offseason, but will now join the Cowboys.

ESPN reporter Adam Schefter was the first to report the news, taking to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share details of the trade between the 49ers and Dallas.

“Trade: 49ers are sending their former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a mid-round, per sources. Lance now gets a fresh start in Dallas,” Schefter wrote on August 25.

Lance was a highly-touted prospect coming out of North Dakota State where he won two FCS National Championships and won the Walter Payton Award in 2019. However, the start of his NFL career has been hampered by injuries and the rise of current 49ers QB Brock Purdy.

Now, Lance will leave behind the struggles of the past two years and try again while learning under Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy. From Dallas’ perspective, they’re picking up a former No. 3 overall pick for just a third or fourth-round pick just two years into his career.

Trey Lance Failed to Find Success With 49ers

A quick look at Lance’s only full season with North Dakota State (2019) shows why NFL teams like San Francisco were so high on him. Sports Reference shows that he completed 67% of his passes, throwing for 2786 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The 49ers were clearly sold on his ability, trading up in the 2021 NFL draft to take him with the third overall pick. San Francisco moved up by giving up their first-round pick in that year’s draft, as well as their first-round selections in the 2022 and 2023 NFL drafts.

However, Lance hasn’t gotten a proper shot in the Bay Area. As a rookie, he developed behind Jimmy Garoppolo but did make a couple of starts due to injuries to Jimmy G. 2022 was supposed to be his proper debut, but a severe ankle injury in Week 2 sidelined Lance for the rest of the year.

Overall, Lance’s numbers aren’t abysmal by any means, but it’s a very small sample size. The 23-year-old has completed 56 of 102 passing attempts in the NFL, throwing for 797 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

Cowboys Make Their Move

As Heavy recently covered, Dallas was linked to a trade for Lance just a day or so before it actually happened. USA Today’s Nate Davis listed the Cowboys as one of the potential landing spots, and brought up an interesting point about Mike McCarthy’s approach to developing QBs.

“Lance could sharpen his skills – probably for a while – in what passes for anonymity in Dallas,” Davis wrote. “And don’t forget, Mike McCarthy had Brett Favre as his QB1 for two years in Green Bay before transitioning to future four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.”

Davis was clearly onto something, and now Lance is set to become the Cowboys’ newest QB. What question this trade does pose is: what happens to Cooper Rush? Rush went 4-1 as a starter last season for Dallas, but whether or not he remains the backup QB to Prescott is now in question.