It’s not often that top folks around the NFL will openly admit to mistakes, especially ones that are made very publicly, are very costly and occurred only very recently. But give credit to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, he did just that this week when he finally copped to the trade for Trey Lance in the 2021 draft being a “mistake.”
In a deal that needs no repeating (but we’ll do it anyway), San Francisco moved up to No. 3 overall, and in return, sent Miami its pick at No. 12, plus first-round selections in 2022 and 2023, with an added third-round pick in 2022. The 49ers were debating on whether to take Lance or Mac Jones at that spot. Of course, they took Lance, who was shipped to Dallas this week for a 2024 fourth-round selection.
Speaking on KNBR in San Francisco, Shanahan said, “It didn’t work the way all of us wanted to and once you realize that, it’s time to move on. We did for us, and we did for him. I think we’re both in a much better position now. … We knew exactly, one of two people, we were going to take. So when you move up and it doesn’t work out, definitely that is a mistake.”
Brock Purdy a Solid Consolation Prize
The 49ers have moved on nicely, with Brock Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 draft out of Iowa State, taking over as the starter. Purdy was sensational last year when he took over after injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Lance, going 5-0 to close the regular season and posting a 67.1% completion rate and 1,374 yards. He suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Championship game, but wil be ready for Week 1 this year.
The Niners made Sam Darnold their backup, which made Lance expendable. The Cowboys got him for the low cost of a 2024 fourth-round pick.
A mistake, for sure.
Logic Behind 2021 Draft Deal Made Sense
But, Shanahan explained the Niners’ logic at the time. San Francisco was uncertain (with good reason) about the health and longevity of Jimmy Garoppolo, and the team knew he was not going to be around in two years—which, as we have seen, was true.
In free agency, the 49ers had tried to being in veteran Joe Flacco and others, with no luck. Their only option was to draft and develop a player who could replace Garoppolo in two years, and the only way to do that would be to trade up—the 49ers brass knew the group was talented enough to land at the bottom of the draft year after year, leaving them out of reach of top quarterback prospects.
“We did like our decisions when we looked at the veterans (in free agency), the two veterans who were available and we didn’t get that,” Shanahan said. “And we knew what way were going to go two years from then. We knew we were going to have to get a quarterback at that time. We didn’t feel we would be in that position the following year, one in the draft, and two in free agency. I think that was accurate. We had the 29th pick the next year and the following year and that would have been impossible to get up to a high enough pick to take a rookie quarterback. That was the reasoning for it, which, I do get that.
“But that’s the risk of it. We took a huge risk and it didn’t work out that way, and that’s why I feel very fortunate we have a rookie quarterback, or a guy on a rookie deal.”