The 49ers gambled on quarterback Trey Lance's high ceiling in the 2021 NFL Draft. Four starts and three training camps later, the 23-year-old was traded to the Dallas Cowboys on Friday, signaling an end to the Lance Era in the Bay that never got off the ground.
One NFL reporter ripped San Francisco on Monday for fumbling Lance's evaluation and development.
"Kyle Shanahan is more incentivized than anybody on this planet to make Trey Lance succeed as an NFL quarterback," ESPN's Jeff Darlington said on the "Get Up" show. "The 49ers and Shanahan look like idiots when it comes to their evaluation of Trey Lance because he failed and they gave up so much for him."
It wasn't cheap to trade up and select Lance. The 49ers sent three first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins to move up nine spots and take Lance at No. 3 overall. The Dolphins infamously used those acquired picks to draft wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and trade for stars Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb.
Brock Purdy's rise from Mr. Irrelevant to the 49ers' new long-term answer under center is the biggest reason why the organization was able to move on from Lance so quickly.
All reports indicated Lance was continuing to improve in training camp. General manager John Lynch recently said Lance "made incredible leaps and bounds" this year. But still, the 49ers clearly were more comfortable with Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen backing up Purdy this season than Lance.
"They gave up on him," Darlington said. "That tells me all I need to know. I trust Shanahan’s on-field assessment more than most people in the NFL. He gave up on Trey Lance. Him giving up on him now is far more significant than him doing it last year."
San Francisco 49ers
Lance now joins a crowded quarterbacks' room in Dallas where he's behind Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush -- who went 4-1 as a fill-in starter last year -- on the depth chart. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't expect Lance to contribute much to the Cowboys this season. Even next year is a question mark.
"The funny thing about this conversation from the Cowboys’ perspective is that we can either make it sound like the most brilliant move in the world, or a really strange move when it’s probably, honestly, somewhere in the middle," Darlington said Monday. "It's probably Jerry Jones saying, 'Would we use a fourth-round pick in this coming draft if we evaluated Trey Lance as a potential backup quarterback? Yeah, we would do that.'
"And I think that's all this is."