How CBS Sports now views 49ers selection of Trey Lance

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 /

The folks at CBS Sports looked back at the 49ers’ drafting of Trey Lance and other first-round drafted quarterbacks of the last 15 years.

“If we knew then what we know now,” might be a fulfilled with of any general manager out there.

If the San Francisco 49ers, and nine other teams, knew that quarterback Patrick Mahomes would turn into a superstar there’d be no way the Kansas City Chiefs would have been able to grab him at No. 10 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft after trading up to that spot.

Speaking of trade-ups, the Niners engineered their own aggressive trade-up back in 2021 in an attempt to replicate some Mahomes-like success, acquiring former North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall.

Most recall that story. But, after sitting behind veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo for the bulk of his rookie year, then suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 of his sophomore campaign, Lance has now accumulated a mere four regular-season starts since that point.

Needless to say, it’s hard to come to any conclusions about San Francisco drafting him aside from the hard reality that there are none that have been delivered.

Drafting quarterbacks, especially early in Round 1, is always an eagerly debated and discussed topic, and the folks over at CBS Sports took a look back at first-round quarterbacks selected over the last 15 years to see where Lance and others fell into the following criteria:

"Home run: A bona fide star with championship-caliber talent, production and/or potentialMixed result: A solid, maybe even great, QB who had an impact but for whatever reason did not lastIncomplete: A QB who’s yet to fully prove himself, but could be trending up or downMiss: A clear flip as a short- and/or long-term starter"

You may or may not be surprised where Lance ended up.

CBS Sports’ analysis of 49ers drafting Trey Lance isn’t shocking but also isn’t good

You probably already guessed which category Lance fell into among those five first-round quarterbacks from the 2021 draft, but let’s break down how CBS Sports viewed that particular class:

  • No. 1 overall: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars — Home run
  • No. 2 overall: Zach Wilson, New York Jets — Miss
  • No. 3 overall: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers — Incomplete
  • No. 11 overall: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears — Incomplete (up)
  • No. 15 overall: Mac Jones, New England Patriots — Incomplete (down)

Wilson has been the biggest flop of the bunch, while Lawrence finally looks like that “sure thing.”

And, while both Fields and Jones land in the “incomplete” category, it’s understandable that the former is trending upward while the other is heading downward.

Lance, of course, remains the wild card, and CBS Sports pretty much hit it on the nail:

"Lance is a total unknown, flashing all the physical tools but managing just eight game appearances in two injury-riddled seasons."

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It’s true, there is almost nothing conclusive about Lance to date. But that becomes a problem when considering the “what have you done for me lately?” nature of the NFL and the fact that San Francisco hasn’t received much of a return from their investment in Lance whatsoever the last two years.

Now, with Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold gunning for the 49ers’ QB1 role entering 2023, it’s fair to wonder if Lance will soon start trending in a Jones-type direction.

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