League execs question Trey Lance trade from 49ers in 2021 NFL Draft

NFL execs wonder if 49ers needed to trade for Lance originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers quarterback situation between Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance has shown how quickly things can change in the NFL.

In less than eight months, San Francisco’s QB1 went from Garoppolo to Lance and then back to Garoppolo.

Now, with Lance out for the rest of the season and the 49ers once again being Garoppolo’s team, league executives are wondering if San Francisco needed to trade Lance in the first place.

“If Jimmy didn’t get you where you want to be, then where do you want to be?” an NFC executive told The Athletic’s Mike Sando. “Because I can tell you this: 29 or 30 other teams are not where you were. Who’s adding a player that takes several years to get the answer, to a Super Bowl-caliber team you built, for you to win the Super Bowl? How does it work?”

Garoppolo was traded from the New England Patriots to the 49ers in 2017, and has only had two completely healthy seasons since then. But in both seasons, the veteran QB has led San Francisco in deep playoff runs, including a visit to Super Bowl LIV.

Of course, much of Garoppolo’s success came from the team’s success with an overly talented defense and multiple offensive weapons around them.

Still, since the 49ers acquired Garoppolo, they are 35-16 in games with him under center. In that same span, when he doesn’t start at QB, San Francisco is 9-29.

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But while Garoppolo helped lead the team far, it was never enough. And in 2021, San Francisco made the decision to trade Lance in the draft, using three first-round picks and one third-round pick to acquire him.

It became abundantly clear that the 49ers were ready to move on from Garoppolo and that Lance was the future of the franchise.

But Lance’s inexperience, both in college and in the profession, became worrisome, as one AFC executive mentioned.

“For me, the only analysis worth doing right now is the one game Lance played. [in 2020] And the rest of his college career is enough to say this guy was worth three first-round picks? the AFC executive said. “The deal itself is fully defensible. Look what the Eagles gave up for [Carson] Wentz or the Rams gave up for [Jared] Goff.

But the NFC executive rejected that idea.

“These other teams did it, so we have to do it too?” he said. “So let’s guarantee everyone $240 million when he has a rap sheet against him.”

In that 2021 draft, San Francisco had the 12th pick before trading it as part of the Lance trade.

There is absolutely no way of knowing who the 49ers would have drafted if they hadn’t traded their pick. The Dallas Cowboys ended up with the pick and used it on Micah Parsons, who won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and finished second in AP Defensive Player of the Year voting last season.

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And the four players drafted after Parsons were tackle Rashawn Slater, guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, quarterback Mac Jones and linebacker Zaven Collins.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether the 49ers’ decision to potentially trade one of those players, along with the future picks they traded, was worth it in winning Lance.

“The fact that Lance only played one game his senior year [of college] and you knew he wasn’t going to play much in his first year with the 49ers, it made the aftermath of the injury in the third year that much more significant,” the AFC executive said.

Injuries are never predictable, and it would be unfair to say the 49ers made a mistake in promoting Lance after a painful injury in his second start at QB1.

The back-and-forth game is likely to go on for at least another year with Garoppolo back in the picture, but the goal is the same for all parties involved: just win, baby.

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