Kyle Shanahan bet his future, and the future of the San Francisco 49ers, on North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
One prominent sports analyst believes the 49ers head coach also sent a loud and clear message to the media and the rest of the league by drafting the 20-year-old with the third overall pick.
Dan Le Batard, of the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, said Friday that Shanahan’s selection of Lance was more or less a middle finger to the media and the rest of the NFL — and preemptive one at that, gauging the likely reactions of doubters in a strategy that mortgages years of first-round draft capital to move up for a redshirt sophomore with 17 FCS starts under his belt.
“How the hell am i supposed to analyze what the 49ers just did with Trey Lance?” Le Batard asked his co-hosts Stugotz and the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote.
“My point is that Kyle Shanahan … he was condescending,” Le Batard continued. “He was hitting reporters with something that is 100% accurate, ‘You guys don’t know as much about any of this as I do. You don’t know how to do any of the measurements, you don’t know what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and I believe in myself. And you guys are going to criticize it, but I’m going to bet on myself.”
Shanahan Has Staked His Reputation on Trey Lance
Le Batard went on to reference Shanahan’s time with the Atlanta Falcons as an offensive coordinator, when his schemes helped quarterback Matt Ryan to an MVP season and the team to a 28-3 lead in a Super Bowl.
He then compared Shanahan to arguably the best head coach in NFL history, the New Engalnd Patriots’ Bill Belichick, saying that the 49ers lead man is “getting in the Belichick game.”
“Kyle Shanahan is great, and maybe the best ever, at run option and being able to create off mismatches,” the former radio host said during the first official hour of his podcast Friday. “He’s going to be able to use (Lance) as a running back, running over linebackers, and do a lot of Lamar Jackson-type things.”
“When they trade up for the third pick and everybody’s talking about Mac Jones, and then they’re laughing at us, ‘No ,we kind of got the opposite of Mac Jones. That’s not what we wanted at all,’” Le Batard continued.
“Kyle Shanahan just made a move for, ‘I’m smarter than everyone here. I’m going to do it with somebody unknown, and not only am I going to do it with somebody unknown, I’m going to tell you before this to go bleep yourself. You guys don’t understand this the way that I understand it.’”
Shanahan is not Just Sending a Message to the Media, Le Batard Says
Draft experts and media members have questioned Shanahan’s decision to draft Lance. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. noted Lance coming off the board at No. 3 to the 49ers as his top “head scratcher” of the first round.
Former 49ers general manager turned draft consultant, Scot McCloughlan, criticized Shanahan when he said the current head coach gave up far too much for a quarterback who should have been drafted in the teens or 20s.
Various reports referenced league executives working in current regimes also questioning the price paid for Lance, especially after the Chicago Bears traded up for Justin Fields (Ohio State) at pick No. 11 and the aforementioned Jones (Alabama) fell to the Patriots at No. 15.
The 49ers were originally slotted to pick 12th, but traded that pick and their first round selections in the next two drafts to the Miami Dolphins for the right to choose third this year.
Le Batard said Shanahan’s “bleep you” audience included all doubters within the league, as well as the media.
Speaking as Shanahan, Le Batard said, “My advantage is I know more than anybody about this. None of you think about this the way I do.”
Briefly switching back to his own voice, Le Batard continued, “And it’s not just reporters. He’s telling it to the whole god**** league: ‘I’m the guy who knows more about how to do this than the people who claim to know how to do it.’”