The 49ers brought home eight prospects via the 2021 NFL Draft, but the ripple effect creates winners and losers elsewhere on the roster, too.
If for no other reason than they hope quarterback Trey Lance, selected with the third overall pick after the Niners’ aggressive trade-up from No. 12 overall, turns into a superstar in due time.
The seven other picks Lynch and Shanahan brought aboard each fill specific niches and roles, some being pegged as likely day-one starters while others are intended to fill depth spots and serve as backups.
But the short- and long-term ramifications of each pick ultimately mean there are going to be winners and losers all across the roster. Some players are put into better positions because of rookie additions, while others may see their roster spots endangered by more promising first-year players.
Let’s take a look at San Francisco’s biggest winners and losers stemming from this year’s draft class.
Winner: 49ers quarterback Trey Lance
Let’s face it. Whichever quarterback the 49ers took at No. 3 overall was going to a winning situation.
Typically, most teams selecting in the top five of any NFL Draft aren’t very good and lack the weaponry to help support a rookie QB. But this isn’t the case with Lance, who’ll be joining tight end George Kittle and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to help his maturation.
It’s something Lance elaborated on with 49ers.com’s Keiana Martin:
“I knew this is where I wanted to be.”In his first interview in The Bay, Trey Lance talks about his excitement to join the 49ers, his eagerness to work with and learn from Jimmy Garoppolo and how believing in himself led him to where he is today.
Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, May 2, 2021
It goes beyond just the players, though.
Lance gets to work within Shanahan’s offense, which made former backup quarterback Nick Mullens look competent at times both in 2018 and 2020. While complex to learn, Lance isn’t going to be pushed into the fray right away, thanks to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo still being around.
So, while that might cost Lance a shot at the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year award because he’s simply not playing, the former North Dakota State signal-caller is going to arguably the best situation he could have landed and should have every opportunity to thrive for years to come.