How 49ers ‘coached their way out of’ sticky QB situation

How 49ers ‘coached their way out of’ sticky QB situation originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — Go back more than two-and-a-half years to when the 49ers traded up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and selected quarterback Trey Lance.

There was a common belief that coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch made a move that, if unsuccessful, could spell the end of their tenures with the organization.

Lance did not work out. The 49ers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for a fourth-round draft pick.

Still, Shanahan and Lynch have about as much job security as any coach-GM pairing in the NFL.

Why? Because they have been so good in other areas, as shown by the 49ers’ strong roster, abundance of victories and deep postseason runs over three of the past four seasons.

“They coached their way out of it, honestly,” NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth said on the latest “49ers Talk” episode. “They coached their way out of it, and that’s tremendous.”

Lance opened last season as the starter before he sustained a season-ending injury in Week 2. After backup Jimmy Garoppolo also was injured, Brock Purdy entered the lineup and the 49ers’ offense took off.

And just like that, the 49ers found the quarterback they believe is their long-term starter.

The 49ers’ bold move to invest so much draft capital for the right to select Lance represented a big swing. The trade signals the 49ers did not connect.

Then, they moved on.

“It’s your responsibility as either a head coach or a GM to keep taking those shots until you have that guy that you think is going to give you a chance to win a world championship every year,” Collinsworth said.

And if the 49ers have, indeed, found their long-term quarterback in Purdy, the negatives of the Lance situation can become nearly irrelevant.

“It’s about as close to the Tom Brady situation as we can come up with, right?” Collinsworth said. “You got all these top quarterback prospects, then Mr. Irrelevant comes along and wins eight games in a row. And we’re all shaking our heads and going, ‘What?’ That just doesn’t happen.”

Half the quarterbacks in the NFL are set to earn $30 million or more per season. Meanwhile, the 49ers have Purdy locked up on a deal that pays him $934,253 annually over the course of his four-year contract. The sides are not allowed to enter into negotiations on a new contract until he plays his third full season.

Purdy’s ascension as the team’s quarterback is beneficial because it means the club can afford to keep high-priced veteran players at every position of the team.

But, Collinsworth acknowledges, parting ways with the three first-round picks the 49ers surrendered to bring Lance to the organization will have unavoidable consequences.

“It’s going to have an effect down the road. There’s no question,” Collinsworth said. “You don’t give up that many draft picks and not have some impact on your football team.

“But I’ll say this: If I were in a general manager’s seat, I would always be taking shots at the quarterback position.”

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