Grading 49ers First Round Pick Trey Lance

Lance gets to play on a terrific team with playmakers all over the field, and for an offensive-minded coach who presumably wants to develop him.
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Trey Lance isn't necessarily the safest pick the 49ers could have made. But he's the right pick.

Justin Fields or Mac Jones would have been the wrong pick. Neither merited a top-three selection. Fields dropped to the Bears at No. 11, and Jones to the Patriots at No. 15.

Of those three, Lance was the only choice for the 49ers. He's the youngest quarterback, the biggest quarterback, the most athletic quarterback, the strongest-armed quarterback and the smartest quarterback the 49ers could have picked. He has a legitimate chance to become great one day.

But he played only one game in 2020 -- North Dakota State cancelled its season because of the pandemic. So he started only 17 games in college. He might not be ready to play Week 1 next season.

Or he might be a total natural and win the starting job in training camp. Physically, he's similar to Cam Newton, who started just 14 games in college, then became the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011. He was ready. Why won't Lance be? He's a better passer right now than Newton ever was.

And he landed in the perfect situation. Lance gets to play on a terrific team with playmakers all over the field, and for an offensive-minded coach who presumably wants to develop him. 

Kyle Shanahan sounded genuinely excited to coach Lance during Shanahan's press conference Thursday night. Which is good to hear. Bill Walsh would want to coach a supremely gifted athlete like Lance. Shanahan should want to coach him, too.

I applaud the 49ers for making such a bold pick.

GRADE: A.