The Choice: Trey Lance

The Choice: Why Lance's third-grade teacher happy to be wrong

  • Programming note: Listen to "The Choice: Trey Lance" on 49ers Talk every Thursday for show segments leading up to the full TV premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 7, on NBC Sports Bay Area. In Part 3, Lance's parents push him to reach his full potential in a small Minnesota town.

Over the past 13 years, teacher Paula Meyer thought a lot about a particular message she delivered to the third-grade boys at Holy Redeemer School, and the one child most capable of proving her wrong.

“Every year we had to have talks with the boys about how rough they were playing, and that year was no exception,” she said. “So, I had the boys come in right at the end of recess, and we had a little talk about how you can't be playing rough like that.”

Mrs. Meyer ordered the boys to show restraint with how aggressively they were playing during recess. After all, there were no coaches, no padding and no officials overseeing the action.

“Then I said, ’It’s not like any of you are ever going to be professional football players,’ ” she recalled.

Trey Lance was in that classroom in Marshall, Minn.

And, yes, Mrs. Meyer vividly remembers looking directly at him as she finished her lecture.

“It's a statement that, yeah, I’ve remembered all those years for whatever reason,” she said. “I don't know, but Trey's eyes were the last eyes I looked into after I said that, and I was like, ‘Oh, I might regret that one day.’ And here we are.”

Indeed, here we are ...

The 49ers selected Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, a moment that was celebrated throughout the rural community of more than 13,000 in the southwest corner of Minnesota.

Jake Hess reflected on that third-grade day years later, when he watched his childhood friend and early athletic rival get drafted.

“I definitely cried just because you don't see many guys go and achieve what every third-grader’s dream is,” Hess said.

As Lance grew older, he realized he faced a steep climb to become a professional athlete. But he got more and more determined to give himself the best chances to make that goal a reality.

“Understanding that I’m from a small town, the odds were definitely not in my favor to be where I’m at right now,” Lance said. “So I understood it. It wasn't ever anything that I took too personally. I think it was just one of those things that I just added to the list.”

RELATED: Trey Lance's parents exemplify son's NFL dreams

Mrs. Meyer remains in contact with the Lance family. She and Angie Lance, Trey’s mother, regularly exchange text messages.

Mrs. Meyer arrived at the Lance family house on Patricia Court in Marshall early to catch up with Angie after agreeing to meet there on a humid summer day to talk with NBC Sports Bay Area.

Of course, she never wanted to be someone remembered as trying to squash the dreams of her students, she jokes. And she couldn't be happier that Trey proved her wrong.

“I was going with the odds,” Mrs. Meyer said. “But, you know, somebody makes the cut. I’m glad it was him.”

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