In the game against Detroit Lions on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers followed through with their plan to play their No. 3 pick rookie quarterback Trey Lance as Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup.
The 49ers' traded up from the No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft to the No. 3 slot. However, the San Francisco side gave up major assets — first-round picks in 2021, 2022 and 2023, plus a 2021 third-rounder — for a chance to evaluate and select their quarterback of the future.
But initially, the 49ers were considering approaching Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, according to ESPN reports. Hence their willingness to part with the future slots were motivated by fear. The Niners were concerned that Bill Belichick and the Patriots would make a similar jump from No. 15 in pursuit of Jones based in part on Bill Belichick’s relationship with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.
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The 49ers would lose out on top prospect Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 to Jacksonville out of Clemson) and whoever the Jets choose at No. 2 as a result of such a move, which would eliminate one possibility (reports had them leaning toward Zach Wilson, who they drafted out of BYU).
However, as luck would have it, New England didn't need to take such a risk to get their rookie starter; Jones was selected in the middle of the first round after the 49ers felt Trey Lance was the best choice.
As a result of their deal, the 49ers were able to focus on Lance, Jones, and Ohio State's Justin Fields, whom the Bears moved up to No. 11 overall.
Meanwhile, Jones made his Patriots debut against the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon. On the other side, Lance connected with receiver Trent Sherfield on a 5-yard, play-action pass to help the 49ers take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter against Lions.