There’s still nothing wrong with the 49ers selecting Trey Lance at No. 3 overall in the NFL Draft, but they passed up on these four players as a result.
A full 11 weeks into the 2021 season, it’s clear the San Francisco 49ers are playing the long game with their top investment from last spring’s NFL Draft, quarterback Trey Lance, for whom they aggressively traded up from No. 12 to land at No. 3 overall.
Lance isn’t starting, and he’s hardly even playing, thanks to veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo holding down those duties for now, and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s insistence Garoppolo gives the Niners their best chance at winning.
Right now, at least.
2022 will be Lance’s time, and the following years will reveal whether or not Shanahan and Co. made the correct decision with Lance. Hopefully so. And for now, there’s nothing wrong with that pick. If Lance works out well enough, there’ll be nothing to complain about at all.
Still, that shouldn’t prevent us from looking at some hindsight perspectives here, and San Francisco can still cringe at the thought it missed out on these other top-performing rookies the team otherwise could have had instead of Lance.
49ers Missed Player No. 4: Offensive Tackle Rashawn Slater, Chargers
Some are going to question whether or not the 49ers made the right move by picking up right tackle Mike McGlinchey’s fifth-year option for 2022, and while McGlinchey showed some improvement over the first half of 2021 in comparison to a rough 2020 campaign, the fact he’s now shelved for the rest of the year on injured reserve with a quad injury puts a halt to that.
Same with signing perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams to a record-setting new contract during the offseason, too.
Meanwhile, down in southern California, rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater is dominating in the trenches for the Los Angeles Chargers, earning an insanely impressive 82.6 overall Pro Football Focus grade with only three sacks and two quarterback hits allowed.
While offensive linemen rarely factor into Offensive Rookie of the Year voting, Slater should easily command some attention there.
And it wouldn’t have been a bad approach for the Niners to continue reinforcing their offensive line instead of the Chargers grabbing Slater at No. 13 overall, one spot behind San Francisco’s original pick in Round 1.