On Friday, The San Francisco 49ers announced they are trading former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a fourth-round pick.
Ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Niners were ready to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo and were looking for their franchise quarterback. Most draft scouts had either Lance or Mac Jones being taken third overall with Jones being the likely selection due to the fit of his running Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
The 49ers selected Lance because he could add another dynamic element to the offense. Shanahan strictly has had pocket-passers run his offense; with Lance’s ability to throw and run, the 49ers offense was going to unlock their full arsenal. Lance had weapons coming into San Francisco with Brandon Aiyuk, All-Pro Tight end George Kittle, and All-Pro Wideout Deebo Samuel. With those skill-position players, that offense was going to be special.
But it didn’t happen that way as Lance couldn’t find his footing in Shanahan’s offense and will be looking for a fresh start in Dallas. So why didn’t the Trey Lance era in San Francisco pan out?
Why did the San Francisco 49ers give up on Trey Lance this early?
The San Francisco 49ers gave Trey Lance the keys to the offense last year despite not looking like the No. 3 overall pick. Lance only started in one game for North Dakota State in the COVID-shortened season, and after he backed up Garoppolo in his rookie season, he was expected to become the starter in Year 2.
This is where the 49ers’ shortsightedness happened: because there were players in that locker room who felt that Garoppolo gave them the best chance to win. The 49ers had won games with Garoppolo, so why were they willing to quickly hand a developing quarterback a chance to run a Super Bowl contender?
Lance beat out Garoppolo to win the starting quarterback job, and the new-look 49ers were going to see what this new offense would look like with a mobile quarterback.
Well, that new-look offense only got two games before Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. His first NFL start against the Chicago Bears isn’t as noteworthy as both teams played in torrential downpour. In that game, Lance completed 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception in a 19-10 loss.
That would be the end of the Trey Lance era as Garoppolo took back his starting job before he was lost for the season, and in came the new franchise quarterback of the Niners Mr. Irrelevant selection Brock Purdy. Purdy started the final five games in the regular season, where he went 5-0, threw 13 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He led the Niners to the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. During that game, Purdy suffered a Torn UCL and was going to be out for an extended period. It looked like the window briefly cracked open for Lance to reclaim his starting role.
But heading into training camp, there were reports that Purdy’s elbow healed quicker than expected which meant Lance would be a long shot to be starting quarterback heading into the season. Those reports were correct, and Lance didn’t help his cause by putting together inconsistent performances in training camp with the main concern being his inability to hit on short-passes. Couple that with Sam Darnold putting together more impressive performances in training camp, Lance’s status with the 49ers was in jeopardy and it was all but clear after Darnold won the backup spot that Lance was likely going to be dealt to another team.
What will Trey Lance’s role be for the Dallas Cowboys?
Trey Lance will serve two roles with the Dallas Cowboys. He will be a backup and will also be a gadget guy. Mike McCarthy has been known to be a creative offensive play-caller. Adding a weapon like Trey Lance gives the Cowboys another element on offense because he can use his big 6’4″ frame to convert first downs, and if Dak Prescott gets hurt again, the Cowboys have a better option at quarterback than Cooper Rush.
The Dallas Cowboys added a quarterback who they can develop, and he’ll be able to learn from Dak Prescott and go into a better situation than the one he was in for the 49ers.
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