A former San Francisco 49ers general manager on Wednesday blasted the team’s decision to select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, not to mention what they gave up to get there.
Scot McCloughan ran the 49ers’ drafts from 2005-09, selecting the likes of quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore during his tenure as GM. McCloughan is now a draft consultant operating out of Colorado, typically working to develop a list of draft prospects with three to five teams annually.
In an interview with Matt Barrows, 49ers reporter for The Athletic, McCloughan said he gave Lance a pre-draft rating of 1.3, meaning the available information on the quarterback rendered Lance worthy of a pick somewhere between 21-32 in the first round.
Both the selection at No. 3 and the draft capital the 49ers surrendered to the Miami Dolphins to move up to get Lance were mistakes, McCloughan said.
“Would I have spent two (first-round picks) for him? Absolutely not,” McCloughan said. “Because there are way too many unknowns. Way too many.”
The 49ers gave up the 12th overall pick in 2021, as well as their first-round selections in the coming two drafts. A third-round selection also changed hands, from the 49ers to the Dolphins.
Former 49ers GM Not All The Way Out on Trey Lance
While McCloughan criticized his former team for its overzealous pursuit of a young, unproven quarterback, he also conceded Lance has a chance to be special. McCloughan added that he would have drafted the signal caller with a pick higher than where he ended up in his own final ratings.
“Would I have taken him anywhere in the teens without trading? Hands down, yes,” McCloughan told Barrows. “I would have taken him for sure over (Mac) Jones. And personally, I would have taken him over (Zach) Wilson.”
Wilson, out of BYU, went second to the New York Jets. Jones, an early and long-held favorite for the 49ers with the third pick, fell to the New England Patriots at No. 15.
Lance “Will Never be Great at One Thing,” Former 49ers GM Says
McCloughan was complimentary of Lance in his player comparisons, standing Lance up next to the likes of quarterbacks who have amassed impressive careers.
“Lance, honestly, I think he’s like (former Oilers, Titans and Ravens quarterback Steve) McNair and he’s like Dak (Prescott) from the standpoint that he’s a big guy, a physical guy, a tough guy, a smart guy,” McCloughan said. “He’s just not going to ever be great at one thing.”
“Whereas, like, (Patrick) Mahomes you say, ‘Well, he’s got arm talent, no doubt about it.’ Or you could say with Brett Favre, ‘He’s great because of the arm talent.’ Or you could say with Lamar Jackson, ‘It’s the athleticism and the big-play ability,’” McCloughan continued. “With Trey, there isn’t ever going to be one thing that you say he does the best.”
Despite his analysis that one skill will never set Lance above the rest of his peers, McCloughan does believe Lance is good enough to carry the right team to a title.
“He does everything good,” McCloughan said. “And that’s plenty enough to win a championship.”