Biggest winners, losers from 49ers’ moves in 2023 NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 49ers intended their 2023 NFL Draft to be for depth purposes only this year, but there are plenty of ripple effects that’ll be felt this season.

It’s always interesting to read “between the lines” when looking at any given team’s class of NFL Draft additions.

Case in point, back in 2021, the San Francisco 49ers’ aggressive trade-up to No. 3 overall was all that then-starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo needed to know about his long-term future with the organization.

The Niners grabbed quarterback Trey Lance with that pick and hoped he would emerge as the team’s centerpiece for the next decade.

Two years later, that hasn’t come to fruition. And, leading up to this year’s draft, Lance was the subject of all kinds of trade speculation and rumor.

San Francisco ultimately didn’t trade Lance, but does that mean he’s a clear-cut winner as a result of the 49ers’ most recent actions and additions through the 2023 NFL Draft?

That’s debatable.

Let’s look at Lance and some of the other winners or losers from the Niners’ crop of 2023 draftees, deciding which side of the coin they fall upon.

Loser: 49ers QB Trey Lance

On the surface, Lance might appear as if he’s a winner. He stays with San Francisco in one of the more quarterback-friendly offenses in the NFL and has a roster chock full of offensive talent to support him.

But that’s where the “winning” ends.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that the 49ers are wanting to move on from Lance, and they’ve now put their faith in other signal-callers like Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold. This has led some, such as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, to claim the Niners will try moving Lance later this summer when he could potentially have more value to a quarterback-needy team:

Is it fair to Lance? Probably not. Is it the right move by San Francisco’s vantage point? Perhaps not either.

Think of it from Lance’s vantage point. Would he prefer to be viewed as a QB3 on a depth chart behind Purdy and Darnold, only to be moved to a new team mere weeks before the regular season begins?

Or would he rather have a fresh start somewhere else sooner than later?

Had it been the latter, Lance would probably be happier.