Trey Lance Didn’t Believe a 49ers Icon About His 2021 Draft Prediction: ‘No Way’

49ers Trey Lance Tomlinson

GETTY Trey Lance aims downfield against the Arizona Cardinals.

A San Francisco 49ers legend must have an all-seeing crystal ball hidden somewhere in his closet when it comes to quarterback Trey Lance and his destiny with the very team that drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

While playing in the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe over the weekend, former wide receiver Jerry Rice spoke about the second-year quarterback and the prediction that Rice seemed to manifest into reality.

“I told Trey Lance before he got drafted that he was going to be a 49er,” Rice told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on his “49ers Talk” podcast on Sunday, July 10. “And we were talking over the phone, and he said, ‘No way, Jerry. No way.’ And it happened.”

Okay, so maybe no crystal ball was involved – just good old fashion scouting from one of the greatest to ever step foot onto a football field.

“He’s Way Beyond the Game”

Even though the quarterback soap opera in the Bay between Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo appears to be heating up with every passing rumor, Rice has always been struck by the former recipient of the very award named after him in 2019.

“I think he has knowledge. He’s way beyond the game, his abilities and stuff like that,” Rice said on the podcast. “He’s going to bring something really special to the game.”

And that something special would be a good fit with the team he spent a majority of his 20 seasons in the NFL with.

“I saw this raw guy, but very talented,” Rice said. “Rocket arm, and that could extend plays also by running with the football. And that dimension to the San Francisco 49ers, that can make defensive coordinators have nightmares when you’ve got a mobile quarterback that can get out of the pocket, extend plays and still have the vision and throw it downfield.”

“He’s Ready to Go”

Rice is no stranger to singing Lance’s praises.

While Rice was promoting his energy drink G.O.A.T. Fuel – and yes, the young quarterback is a brand ambassador for the company – on June 30, he referenced Lance’s talents that that one thing that separates him from Garoppolo: Mobility.

“Trey Lance, I think he’s ready to go,” Rice said to KSBW. “And I think he’s incredible because he has that one aspect that Jimmy doesn’t have, and that’s the threat of running with the ball and stuff like that. So his mobility, his strong arm, and this guy, he’s before his time.

Rice also told CBS Sports HQ in March that Lance is the real deal.

“I’m sure the players, just from working out with this guy during the week, during practice, they have a pretty good perception of what he’s capable of doing,” Rice said. “ I see a guy that’s really raw, with a very strong arm, that has that ‘it factor,’ where he can go out and elevate his teammates.

“Listening to Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, all those guys, they really believe in Trey Lance. And I think he’s going to have a great season this year.”

And Rice isn’t the only one who believes in the North Dakota State product as a starter. Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III also sees Lance’s lure and sharp abilities and believes he will thrive as a starter under head coach Kyle Shanahan.

“Kyle Shanahan has had his most success — not his most excitement — with guys like Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo, who you know are going to run the play and put the onus on the coach to have the system work. If it doesn’t work, those guys are throwing the ball away and moving on to the next down. Guys like Trey Lance and myself, our talent takes over at times when the play is not there and you can make the coach right,” Griffin said on Maiocco’s podcast on July 6.

“I think that’s what’s going to take the Niners over the hump and give them the opportunity to win the Super Bowl, not just get to the Super Bowl. I just don’t know when that’s going to happen because we’re not going to know the truth about who Trey Lance is for another two, three years.”

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