Just beyond a quarter of the way into the season, Niner Noise looks at the San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 rookie NFL Draft class so far.
One important aspect of any team is how well they perform at the NFL Draft, and the immediate impact their rookies can bring on the field.
It’s fair to say the San Francisco 49ers have had a mixed bag for 2021.
The Niners have been hit and miss with their drafts in recent years, but they have had a habit of finding some exceptional talent in later rounds such as tight end George Kittle and linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
And, of course, the centerpiece of the latest draft class is quarterback Trey Lance. How Lance performs in the NFL likely will define the legacy of the general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan era regardless of whatever hits and misses from years prior.
Speaking of the latest draft class, we’ll be taking a look at them and grading how they’ve done against expectations for the first five weeks. It’s a good stopping point since San Francisco enters its Week 6 bye.
There is some leeway involved, of course, depending on where they were drafted and on what position.
Let’s start with the centerpiece, though.
49ers NFL Draft Pick, No. 3 Overall: QB Trey Lance (Grade: B)
While there was some debate as to whether Lance would start from Week 1, the truth of the matter was, as a raw quarterback, the team made the right decision to keep him learning as the backup to the veteran, Jimmy Garoppolo.
But he hasn’t been on the sidelines all the time. Lance has been deployed as a gadget quarterback to decent effect in the games, and then took the helm for the second half against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4.
For that game, Lance showed both his floor and his ceiling completing only 50 percent of his passes (9-of-18) but throwing for 157 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions thrown.
His first start showed even better potential, as Lance battled a tough Arizona Cardinals defense to the wire looking better with every play. Lance finished 15-of-29 passing for 192 yards and an interception where he threw too high. He also had 16 rushes for 89 yards.
Lance hasn’t set the world alight, but he isn’t meant to as of yet. For now, though, Lance has been more than serviceable and has shown all the reasons to be excited.