San Francisco 49ers: 4 biggest surprises from 2021 NFL Draft

Trey Lance (North Dakota State) poses with a jersey after being selected by the San Francisco 49ers Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Trey Lance (North Dakota State) poses with a jersey after being selected by the San Francisco 49ers Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers, NFL Draft
North Dakota State Bisons quarterback Trey Lance selected by the San Francisco 49ers during the 2021 NFL Draft Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Francisco 49ers perhaps had the biggest NFL Draft surprise of all at No. 3 overall, yet there were some other shockers out there, too.

No, the San Francisco 49ers2021 NFL Draft class didn’t go the way many pundits and analysts around the league expected it would.

In fairness to those pundits, including myself a good chunk of us here at Niner Noise, how often will an entirety of draft predictions end up being correct or even close to it?

Not many.

Thankfully, at least in some regards, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan shocked the NFL world, particularly right out of the gate at No. 3 overall when they selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance and not Alabama quarterback Mac Jones despite a flurry of speculation Jones would be the pick.

Yet there were a number of other surprises throughout all seven rounds, too, so let’s take a look at the biggest ones from the three-day period.

Surprise No. 1: San Francisco 49ers ‘shock’ the NFL with Trey Lance pick

Kudos to those of you who weren’t buying the smoke behind Jones being the pick. And if you were all in on Lance over Jones or even Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at No. 3 overall, that’s great, too.

From a macro viewpoint, it’s understandable why many thought Jones could have been the choice for Shanahan. Jones has good footwork within the pocket, he’s accurate with his throws and has a great football IQ. Those are important traits, yes, and Shanahan’s previous work with quarterbacks like the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan and even the Niners’ own, Jimmy Garoppolo, seemed to link Jones as a perfect Shanahan-type signal-caller.

Except Shanahan also knew a player with Lance’s upside, both as a strong-armed passer and elusive rushing threat, could take San Francisco’s offense to an entirely new level.

One almost necessary for elongated success in today’s ever-changing NFL.

Maybe he had a late change of mind and is choosing to keep it secret, but Shanahan told reporters it was going to be Lance all along after the 49ers moved up to No. 3 overall in the draft order.

Either way, the Niners probably feel as if they pulled a fast one on the rest of the league and all those who report on it.