There was no real “winner” in the Trey Lance trade
This past offseason, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback situation was quite the roller coaster. Brock Purdy, Mr. Irrelevant from the 2022 NFL Draft who got the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, was coming off elbow surgery, the team signed Sam Darnold in free agency, and former 3rd overall draft pick Trey Lance was coming off his own injury-plagued season.
Purdy’s elbow recovered as expected, making him ready to participate in the offseason workout program, and Lance was looking to find his way amidst the chaos which was the 49ers crowded quarterback room.
Last week it was announced the 49ers had Darnold, not Lance, as their QB2 on the depth chart, and Lance wasn’t present during the team’s practice the following day.
Speculation was everywhere as teams around the league called San Francisco to ask what the asking price would be to obtain Lance’s services. What eventually transpired was the Dallas Cowboys sending a 4th Round draft pick to the 49ers for Lance.
Trade: 49ers are sending their former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a mid-round, per sources. Lance now gets a fresh start in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/UxKNpljktv
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2023
It is at this point when it becomes everyone’s natural reaction to label one of these teams the “winner” or the “loser” in the deal. But when you look at this entire process/deal, I don’t think there’s a winner among them.
For the 49ers, when they gave up first-round picks in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and their third-round pick in 2022 to be the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft, everyone knew they’d be taking a quarterback. Would it be Alabama’s Mac Jones? No, it was Trey Lance. The decision was criticized at the time due to Lance’s lack of experience at North Dakota State, but mainly for the draft capital surrendered in the trade. But if Lance became the quarterback of the future it would be deemed worth it.
Lance didn’t become the quarterback of the future, in fact, he became an after thought. Injuries in his first two seasons combined with the emergence of Purdy as Kyle Shanahan’s option at quarterback, resulted in the organization losing faith in Lance and his overall ability.
Did the 49ers win by drafting Purdy in the 7th Round? Sure, some would say so. Did they win by getting a 4th Round pick for Lance? Hardly. When you consider the capital they lost to move up in the draft to take Lance, one 4th Round pick won’t ever come close to evening the scales…even with Purdy at the helm.
For the Cowboys, how could anyone consider them winners in this deal? Lance hasn’t proven anything in his brief professional career, and while his price tag is low for 2023, giving up a mid-round draft pick for a quarterback who is likely to be buried on the depth chart is certainly worthy of skepticism.
But the biggest loser of all is Trey Lance, and it is no fault of his own. Lance, who had to wait his turn in college behind Carson Wentz, shouldn’t have to apologize for the 49ers selecting him in the draft. It wasn’t his fault the 49ers made such a strong commitment to him, only to have them pull the rug out from underneath his feet.
So what happens to Lance now? He remains in a “prove-it” situation, just with another NFC team.
Can Lance beat out Cooper Rush for the ability to be a back-up?
That isn’t a sentence almost anyone would expect to write/read when talking about a quarterback who was drafted 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
When you look at this story from the start to present day, it truly is a tale of an organization who feels they made a colossal mistake. 49ers fans might not ever truly see it that way, considering the state of their current roster with Purdy at quarterback, but they should never forget the swing-and-miss performed on draft day in 2021.
As for me, I’m rooting for Lance. I never thought he’d be drafted 3rd overall in that 2021 draft, but he is a player who has potential. He needs a system which will help him develop. Is Dallas that place? I don’t think so, but if he has one thing going for him it’s Dak Prescott’s injury history.
Here’s hoping Lance gets a shot to not just prove his doubters wrong, but the 49ers…if there is football justice in this world, it would happen in a key NFC game.