The 49ers paid a heavy price to grab Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft, but NBC Sports' Peter King says the trade isn't as bad as it might seem.
It's looking more and more like the San Francisco 49ers' aggressive trade-up prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, one which was needed to land quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, is going to be a dud.
Lance, who was already seen as extremely raw coming out of college, has just four regular-season starts since that point. Granted, he suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 2 of what should have been his inaugural year as the Niners' full-time starter, and no one can truly fault him for that setback.
Nevertheless, in a "what have you done for me lately?" kind of league, Lance hasn't exactly delivered San Francisco the desired results. And with the vast majority of opinions, analysis and rumors pointing toward Brock Purdy and not Lance as the 49ers' starting quarterback moving forward, that 2021 trade looks even worse.
Except NBC Sports' Peter King is here to remind everyone that it's not quite as bad as it might appear.
Peter King points out 49ers gave up 2 late Round 1 draft picks for Trey Lance, not a top-5 pick
To recap, the Niners moved up to No. 3 overall back in 2021 by sending off their own first-round selection that year (No. 12 overall) and two future first-round picks, one in 2022 and the other in 2023. Additionally, San Francisco gave up a 2022 third-round pick, all of which went to the Miami Dolphins.
That's an awful lot to give up regardless of the selection. And if Lance flames out, it'll make the 49ers look even worse for doing so.
In his latest Football Morning in America column, however, King reminded fans that it's not the worst thing that could have happened for the Niners:
"The third pick in 2021, Trey Lance, hasn’t panned out and looks to have lost his starting job to the last pick in the 2022 draft, Brock Purdy. In its own way, that’s disastrous enough. But at least the picks San Francisco ended up surrendering were late first-round picks in ’22 and ’23, both times the 29th overall choice, as part of the deal. The Cardinals should end up with a far better pick, Houston’s first-rounder in 2024, than either of the first-rounders the Niners gave up."
For those keeping score, Houston gave up No. 12 overall and No. 33 overall, the latter coming early in Round 2, plus first- and third-round picks in 2024. That netted pick No. 3 overall, as well as No. 105 overall.
OK, so King's point is pretty simple: San Francisco ended up being a pretty good team in 2021 and 2022, meaning those first-round selections came toward the very end of the round.
The Texans, meanwhile, are likely to be pretty bad this year amid the first-year rebuild under head coach DeMeco Ryans, who left the 49ers' defensive coordinator role this offseason to take on his chance with Houston.
While it might not wholly relieve any pain the Niners could have from trading up to draft Lance, at least they didn't trade away what turned into a top-five pick a year or two later.