NFL analyst and talk show host Rich Eisen said Wednesday that fans should expect the unexpected when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers‘ third pick in the NFL draft.
Eisen is the first nationally credible analyst to announce his sources have told him the team will select quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State University. While Lance’s name has been floated speculatively by other media members in the know, none of them have gone so far as to put their names on the 20-year-old as even the frontrunner to be 49ers actual choice.
Eisen took that leap on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, while speaking on “The Rich Eisen Show,” though he chose diction that left a sliver of breathing room between himself and Lance as the 49ers’ definitive pick.
“I’m hearing it’s Trey Lance,” Eisen said. “That’s what I’m hearing now. I’m hearing the kid is supremely talented physically, and neck-up smart and also really wants to learn.”
Questions Swirling Around Lance Kept Him a Distant Possibility for 49ers Early On
Unless you’re an avid member of the 49er faithful or a rabid consumer of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), there’s a decent chance you don’t know much about the Bison quarterback.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback stands at 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighs in at 226 pounds. During his second season at NDSU, Lance threw for 28 touchdowns and a staggering zero interceptions. In fact, he’s only turned the ball over once through the air in all his time as a member of the Bison.
While impressive, that last statistic is a little misleading. During his redshirt season, Lance threw only one pass. Last year, injury sidelined the quarterback and he played in only one game. The one career interception speaks to both Lance’s accuracy and a recent injury history that compounds a lack of experience.
Furthermore, as a quarterback in the FCS, the competition Lance faced week to week the year he dominated is a far cry from what will line up across from him in the NFL on Sundays.
That said, long-time NFL starter Carson Wentz preceded Lance as the NDSU quarterback and was able to step onto the field for the Philadelphia Eagles and create a positive impact early in his career.
Lance to 49ers Has Been Gaining Momentum for Weeks
Lance scheduled his first pro day on March 12. A total of 30 NFL franchises attended the workout. The 49ers were one of two teams that did not make an appearance.
A second pro day on April 19, however, saw 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in attendance, with Lance tailoring the workout specifically to the kinds of drills and throws typical to 49ers practices.
The 49ers were initially rumored to be locked in on Alabama QB Mac Jones, though Ohio State signal caller Justin Fields gained steam when San Francisco announced it would also attend his second pro day just five days before visiting with Lance in Fargo, North Dakota.
Fields subsequently became the betting favorite to be selected by the 49ers with pick No. 3. However, news then broke that Fields has been managing epilepsy, which could give pause to teams interested in drafting the quarterback high in the first round.
It was only one day after word of Fields’ medical condition was made public that Eisen became the first nationally reputable football insider to say that his sources have Lance as the leader in the 49ers clubhouse with just one week remaining until draft night.