Trey Lance

Winners, losers from 49ers' stunning Lance trade to Cowboys


Trey Lance’s final three days with the 49ers were a wild ride.

On Wednesday, it was reported that San Francisco placed Sam Darnold ahead of Lance on the QB depth chart behind starter Brock Purdy. Coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed the news several hours later.

On Thursday, general manager John Lynch said in an interview that Lance remaining with the 49ers as their third-string quarterback was the “most likely option.”

And on Friday – several hours before the 49ers’ preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers – Lance was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.

The quarterback once pegged to be the future of the franchise only started four games in red and gold.

Without further ado, it’s time to list the winners and losers who emerged from the shocking trade:

Loser: Trey Lance

It just didn’t work out in the Bay Area for Lance.

Even though he didn’t get an extended look as the starting quarterback due to injury and other circumstances, he’ll go down as one of -- if not the -- biggest draft busts in 49ers history.

A fresh start was needed. But he didn’t exactly land in a place with a clear path to the top of the depth chart in Dallas, either. The Cowboys’ quarterback room was crowded before the Lance trade.

Dak Prescott, entering his eighth season as the team’s starter, has two years left on his contract. The Cowboys have a potential out after this year but would have to take on a significant dead cap penalty to move on.

Cooper Rush, who has another two years on his deal, is Prescott’s backup and went 4-1 as the fill-in starter last season. Will Grier still is on the roster, but he’ll reportedly be cut now that Lance is in town.

Lance was lined up to be the third-string quarterback in San Francisco. It seems like he’ll take on that same role in Dallas … for now.

Winner: Miami Dolphins

The trade that already looked lopsided now is a laugher.

The 49ers traded three first-round draft picks and a third-rounder to move up nine spots and select Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in 2021.

The Dolphins used those extra draft picks to acquire three franchise-altering stars in wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (draft), speedster Tyreek Hill (trade) and linebacker Bradley Chubb (trade).

You know that graphic breaking down the trade aftermath is going to haunt the 49ers Faithful for years to come.

Loser: Dak Prescott

An organization doesn’t trade for a 23-year-old quarterback with a high ceiling if it has total faith in its franchise guy.

Prescott is coming off his worst season– a 91.1 passer rating and career-high 15 interceptions – and has yet to lead the Cowboys past the divisional playoff round. Dallas owner Jerry Jones publicly discussed extending Prescott’s contract in recent years, but those talks slowed as he struggled last year.

If Prescott flops again in 2023, could the Cowboys hand the keys to Lance?

Winner: Nick Bosa

The 49ers’ negotiations with Bosa are lasting longer than the front office hoped. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year is holding out to land what many expect to be the most lucrative contract handed out to a defensive player in league history.

By trading Lance, San Francisco cleared $940,000 in salary-cap space this season and $5.3 million next year. It’s not much, but it’s also not insignificant. Perhaps that freed-up cash helps put the finishing touches on a contract that keeps Bosa’s celebratory post-sack shrugs in a 49ers uniform.

Loser: NDSU

North Dakota State University can’t exactly claim the title of QBU.

While Lance's tenure in the Bay is considered a failure, fellow Bison and former first-round pick Carson Wentz remains unsigned. Wentz was last pictured working out in a smorgasbord of gear from his former teams. Oof.

Winner: Brandon Allen

It was a bit suspicious this offseason when the 49ers gave Allen $200,000 guaranteed as part of a one-year, $1.2 million contract to be their fourth quarterback.

With Lance now in Dallas, Allen slides in as the 49ers' third-string quarterback behind Purdy and Sam Darnold. It's likely he'll make the 53-man roster -- considering the lessons learned in the NFC Championship Game -- and can serve as the team's emergency quarterback while not counting toward the allowed 48 players on the game day active roster.

In May, coach Kyle Shanahan said they signed Allen for insurance in case Purdy wasn't fully recovered from his offseason elbow surgery in time for the regular season. But ... perhaps this was the plan all along.

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