With draft over, Niners now turn to preparing Lance for NFL

National Sports

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, right, holds a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the San Francisco 49ers with the third pick in the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

From the moment the San Francisco 49ers made the decision to trade two future first-round picks to move up from No. 12 to 3 in the NFL draft, the pressure on the organization was immense.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan spent the next month debating one of the most consequential decisions in franchise history before settling on taking North Dakota State’s Trey Lance as the quarterback of the future.

After spending the final two days of the draft adding players to help Lance on offense and address their defensive depth, the Niners can finally catch their breath.

“I think I’m ready to go on vacation and leave Kyle here to run the team,” Lynch said Saturday. “That’s how I feel.”

The next big job will be getting Lance prepared for the NFL after he threw only 318 passes in college at the FCS level, the fewest college passes for any first-round quarterback in the last 40 years, according to ESPN.

Lance will report to rookie minicamp in less than two weeks and then take part in the full offseason program.

There isn’t an immediate rush for Lance to play. The Niners are planning to keep Jimmy Garoppolo and follow the Kansas City model from 2017 when Patrick Mahomes spent his rookie season backing up Alex Smith.

Garoppolo appears to be on board with the plan and reached out immediately to welcome Lance to the team.

“Jimmy has taken a business approach, but I think he’s excited for right now just talking to him and he’s ready to come here and get back to being healthy and playing with our team,” Shanahan said. “If we have them compete, I know he’s ready to compete.”

DAY 3 PICKS

The Niners spent the final day of the draft adding more depth on the offensive line, help in the secondary and a running back.

San Francisco took Western Michigan guard Jaylon Moore with its first of three fifth-round picks, adding a player with experience blocking in a zone running scheme.

The 49ers followed that up by taking Oregon cornerback Deommodre Lenoir and Southern California safety Talanoa Hufanga.

Lenoir projects as a slot cornerback who can also play outside if necessary, while Hufanga is a box safety or linebacker. Both will be counted on to contribute on special teams.

Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell was taken in the sixth round.

HEALTH REPORT

After a 2020 season that was derailed by injuries and a draft process with limited medical information, the Niners prioritized players with cleans bills of health.

Lynch said they focused more on injury history and the only player they picked with an extensive one was Hufanga, who missed time in college with a broken collarbone, concussion and shoulder sprain.

“You learn over time. We we make adjustments each and every year,” Lynch said. ”But after you go through what we went through last year, you take a harder look. We didn’t overreact to it, but I think we responded accordingly.”

HAPPY COACH

Niners running backs coach Bobby Turner spent the lead-up to the draft feeling a bit ignored as Shanahan was focused on the quarterback pick. But Turner got a nice gift on the final two days of the draft with the selections of Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in the third round and Mitchell in the seventh.

“Bobby’s been sensitive lately because I haven’t talked to him as much he claims in the last month,” Shanahan said. “Today he forgave me for it. I told him I’ve been working on some stuff and he didn’t believe that. We got him two running backs. He was very happy.”

San Francisco also added two potential strong run blockers with guard Aaron Banks in the second round and Moore in the fifth.

HOUSE HUNTING

Lance visited the Niners facility on Friday to get familiar with the area. He and his family then planned to go house hunting and Shanahan gave Lance some advice about the notoriously expensive Bay Area real estate market.

“I told him, ‘Don’t be too depressed. Everyone is very upset after the first couple of days and you realize you’ve got to change what you were looking for,’” Shanahan said. “And they’re like, ‘No, everyone’s told us.’ I’m like, ‘No, everyone told me, you’ll see, it’s real.’ So that was mainly our conversation.”

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