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Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, many believed they knew who 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would draft based on his past preference for Kirk Cousins and track record with other quarterbacks.
Many thought the head coach would want a player who thrives in the pocket, over a dual-threat oriented QB, but the 49ers surprised many when Trey Lance was the pick at No. 3 overall in April, and Shanahan told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami that he found humor in all of the reports linking him to Mac Jones.
“I do laugh at [it],” Shanahan told Kawakami on his podcast.. “… [And] that everyone thinks that they know exactly what I want at quarterback because I thought we had a chance to get the number one free agent quarterback who was going to be on the market in our second year.
Jones was the general consensus among “insiders” as the 49ers’ preferred choice, Yahoo Sports reports. And of the five QB’s selected in the first round, Jones was the only one who didn’t offer above-average speed at the position.
“And since we did, people just assume that’s how I would draw it up, which if you draw it up, obviously you’re going to give the guy everything,” Shanahan said. “I do believe that you have to be able to win from the pocket in this league as a quarterback or it will catch up to you. But holy cow, if you can run, it makes playing from the pocket a lot easier because those defenses are going to change and stuff.”
All five, including Lance, showcased impressive accuracy and strong arms but Lance was ultimately the only QB of the five that put together a 1,000-yard rushing season during his collegiate career.
“I just wanted the element that he could bring,” he said. “And I wouldn’t have been impressed with the running element if I didn’t believe he could be a quarterback from the pocket. So you’ve got to have that skill set, as I say, to get in the club. But when you have the bonus of running, that’s kind of what I got so intrigued with. They were all good candidates, but it’s just what direction do you want to go and the more time that we put into Trey, the stronger it got and I’ve always been intrigued by that element of the game.”
At the end of the day, Shanahan told Kawakami that Lance’s ability to throw was what made the 49ers comfortable with drafting a player without a lot of similarities to QB1.
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Kyle’s always the smartest the guy in the room, or at least he thinks he is, except when Bill Belichick is there. Or Andy Reid……