SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — With an eye on making Super Bowl runs in the talented laden NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance as its quarterback of the future with the No. 3 pick Thursday in the NFL Draft.
It was just two seasons ago that Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where the team’s hopes for a sixth NFL title slipped through their fingers amid a fourth quarter collapse. Garoppolo’s continued health was a mounting concern heading into the draft so GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to make a bold move.
The 49ers brain trust swapped first round picks with Miami and also sent along two future No. 1 choices to move up to the No. 3 spot. With Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zack Wilson taken with the top two picks, the 49ers were down to Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Lance.
Of the three, Lance had the highest upside as a duo threat with his arm and his legs. The potent combination is of greater importance with Kyler Murray an emerging talent in Arizona and veteran Russell Wilson guiding the Seattle Seahawks in the highly competitive NFC West.
Here are five things to know about Lance.
- Didn’t play much last season: Amid the COVID-19 outbreak last season, Lance played just one game. Against Central Arkansas, Lance showed all his skills. He rushed 15 times for 143 yards and two TDs. He completed 15-of-30 passing for 149 yards and two scores in the 39-28 victory. He also threw his first and only career interception in 307 consecutive attempts.
- Excellence during 2019 Season: In 2019, he led the Bison to an undefeated season and a Football Championship Subdivision national championship. He became the first freshman to win the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS. He also won the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman player in the subdivision. He is the first player to win both major FCS legacy awards in the same season. Lance also was the first freshman voted Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
- By the numbers: In his only full season of college play, Lance led the FCS with a 180.6 pass efficiency rating, ranked second in yards per pass attempt (9.71), fourth in points responsible for (252), fifth in completion percentage (66.9) and 10th in rushing yards per carry (6.51). He set the NCAA all-divisions record for most passing attempts in a complete season (287) without an interception. Lance finished the year with a school-record 288 career consecutive passing attempts without an interception and set NDSU single-season records for passing efficiency (180.6) and total offense yards (3,886).
- Duo threat: Lance set an NDSU freshman record with 1,100 rushing yards and had a team-high 14 rushing TDs. Led the Bison with 44 rushing attempts on third down with an average of 10.2 yards per attempt, 27 first downs and eight TDs. In the FCS Championship game, he was named the Most Outstanding Player with a season-high 30 rushes and 166 yards with one touchdown. Lance gave NDSU a two-score lead on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 44-yard touchdown run on third-and-23.
- Connection to 49ers: His father, Carlton Lance, played for Southwest Minnesota State and joined NFL camps with the Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers. Carlton was a cornerback who spent two weeks in 49ers training camp ahead of the 1994 season. He was signed on July 22, 1994, and was waived two weeks later on Aug. 4, 1994 and went on to play in the CFL for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and in the World League for the London Monarchs.