The 49ers won’t know whether the Trey Lance trade is a success until he sees a couple seasons of full-time action as a starter. However, the 2022 NFL draft marked an early win for San Francisco’s front office in their decision to move up in the 2021 draft to select their potential franchise signal caller.
Lance went third overall in 2021 and was the third quarterback taken overall. He was one of five taken in the first round.
The 2022 draft class was widely panned in pre-draft analysis, and the league agreed with those assessments as no quarterback was selected until the 20th overall pick. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback selected in Round 1, and it took until Round 4 for the fifth quarterback to be selected this year.
Ultimately how Lance does on the field will determine whether the move was a good one by San Francisco. They had their choice of all but two signal-callers in the draft when they selected third overall. The process is hard to argue with though given how this year’s draft shook out.
The 49ers needed to take a big swing at quarterback because of the position’s outsized importance in the sport. Jimmy Garoppolo is a quarterback the team could win with, but the margin of error was too low.
There’s a level of certainty and consistency required at the position that Garoppolo wasn’t going to provide. Simply staying the course would’ve been a tough sell since it would’ve required another sizable pay day for Garoppolo either this offseason or next.
Instead they took the necessary swing by jumping up in the 2021 draft. Waiting could’ve been a disaster given what we know about the disparity in the two quarterback classes.
Perhaps one of Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, or another quarterback from this year winds up being a star. History in classes that shake out this way tells us that’s very unlikely.
The 49ers still need Lance to start and play well to get full marks for the move. A bold trade was what they needed though. That was clear last year and the dramatic fall for the quarterbacks in this year’s draft just underscores how important it was for San Francisco to make their move when they did.