Why RG3 believes 49ers' Lance pick was Shanahan's growth moment


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. — Robert Griffin III sees a lot of significance in Kyle Shanahan's decision to turn the offense over to the first dual-threat quarterback he has coached in a decade.

Second-year quarterback Trey Lance appears ready to take over as the 49ers’ starting quarterback this season. The 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Lance, who sat for one season behind Jimmy Garoppolo.

Lance threw 28 touchdown passes without an interception while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns in his only season as the starter at North Dakota State.

“This is a growth moment for him,” Griffin said of Shanahan on 49ers Talk. “He realizes, yes, I am — let’s call it what it is — he’s a control freak. He wants to control everything. He wants to control every aspect of the offense.

“And maybe he’s understanding that sometimes you need that guy that can just make a play for you.”

Griffin played his first two NFL two seasons for Shanahan, who was Washington's offensive coordinator. Shanahan adapted his offense to account for Griffin’s running ability. Griffin was NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 before injuries derailed his career.

But most of Shanahan’s success as a coach has come with such pocket quarterbacks as Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan and Garoppolo. The selection of Lance shows that, perhaps, Shanahan is willing to step outside of his comfort zone.

“I think Kyle Shanahan is realizing his own kryptonite was his control,” Griffin said. “And maybe he needs alleviate that a little bit, and he’s got a guy in Trey Lance who is extremely smart, extremely athletic and has a very strong arm.

“He can run both systems. He can run what I ran and he can run what Jimmy Garoppolo runs, and that’s what the 49ers need.”

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Griffin believes Lance will be able to run the 49ers’ offense as Shanahan teaches. But Lance will have the added element of bailing the team out of a disadvantage situations with his running ability and strong arm, Griffin said.

“I think that’s what’s going to take the Niners over the hump and give them the opportunity to win the Super Bowl — not just get to the Super Bowl,” Griffin said. “I don’t know when that’s going to happen because we’re not going to know the truth about who Trey Lance is for another two or three years.

“I was excited to see him (Shanahan) go out and draft Trey Lance because I know that is the X-factor that he’s been missing.”

Griffin cited the Super Bowl in which the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 second-half lead against the New England Patriots. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Falcons.

“And it’s not anyone in particular’s fault," Griffin said, "but I do believe having a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position will take Kyle Shanahan to the places he wants to be."

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