Trey Lance the 3rd overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft was recently traded for a fourth round pick after a disastrous post college transition to the NFL.

Many 1st round QB's don't pan out. Lance may just be another name added to that list. Yet, this situation just doesn't sit right with many. 

Lance was a well-known project entering the draft that needed to be handled correctly, i.e. Josh Allen at the Buffalo Bills. 

The San Francisco 49ers brain trust's "brilliant" coaching staff and big-name executive's tried to imitate Sean McDermott's blueprint and it blew up in their face in spectacular fashion. Why? They failed to follow the example set by the Buffalo Bills

Coaching Failure 1: The Rookie Is The Starter….. Right?!?

In 2018 the Buffalo Bills let their young dynamic but inexperienced rookie QB learn the ropes of the position from Week 2 onwards. After 6 games Josh Allen sadly got injured, these were his career numbers at the time;

Record: Buffalo Bills 2 - 4


  • 54% completion percentage.
  • 139 passing yards per game
  • 2 passing touchdowns vs 5 interceptions
  • 26 rushing yards per game
  • 3 rushing touchdowns vs 4 fumbles

This is ghastly production for today's NFL. It is this sort of play that scared Kyle Shanahan from starting Trey Lance early.  However, this prevented Trey Lance the necessary game time to go through these growing pains.

Sean McDermott didn't mind getting shout-out (Bills 0 - Packers 22, week 3, 2018) for the development of his star draft pick. If Kyle Shanahan had truly wanted to develop Trey Lance he would've convinced the organization to stay committed through such rough games.

The Buffalo Bills never wavered and when Allen was healthy he was immediately thrust back into the line up. 

These are his career numbers post injury:

Record: Buffalo Bills 3 - 3


  • 52% completion percentage.
  • 207 passing yards per game
  • 8 passing touchdowns vs 7 interceptions.
  • 79 rushing yards per game
  • 5 rushing TD's vs 4 fumbles 

Josh Allen wouldn't be the MVP caliber player he is today without this necessary growing period. 

55% Discount – 1-year DFS Optimizer: Cutting edge features, multiple projections sources

Coaching Failure 2: It's The QB's System….Right?!?

Let's not forget Trey Lance was division 2 QB, the leap from that level to the NFL is not to be under-estimated. An adjusted system should've been put in place for Lance's skillset. Instead the opposite happened, Lance was forced to adjust his game to the Shanahan system..

"In a 28-20 win over James Madison in the 2020 FCS National Championship, which concluded the 2019 season, Lance rushed a season-high 30 times for a season-best 166 yards, while completing a season-low six passes on just 10 attempts."

At North Dakota State Trey Lance was a punishing battering ram who occasionally made a big explosive play with his arm. As a 49er they asked him to be the inverse, a dart thrower who occasionally made an explosive play with his legs.

The 49ers tried to change Trey Lance, mold him into their ideal QB image and once it was clear it wasn't working rather than adjust, Kyle Shanahan simply abandoned the project and found a new QB who could fit the mold.

Coaching Failure 3: Coordinator Stability

Josh Allen enjoyed relative coordinator stability under future head coach Brian Daboll. Under this guidance Allen was able to polish up his game while Daboll spent years putting together the system that complimented and suited Allen.

Trey Lance has not experienced this benefit through no fault of his own. The 49ers offensive coordinators are some of the most in demand hires in every coaching cycle. Lance has been robbed of great offensive mentors by other desperate teams.

Below is a list of all of Trey Lance's offensive head assistants hired away by other teams:

  • Run Game Coordinator - Mike McDaniels, hired by Miami Dolphins
  • Pass Game Coordinator - Mike LaFleur, hired by New York Jets
  • Wide Receiver Coach - Wes Walker hired by Miami Dolphins

Conclusion: P.S. To Kyle Shanahan - Focus Shift On QB Skillset 

Trey Lance career is one big question mark. That is due to no fault of his own. Lance is a victim of modern coaching failures. Kyle Shanahan wouldn't let the star of the show be his QB. It has to be the system. It has to be the coach.

History will show a head coach once picked Mr. Irrelevant over a 1st round QB not based on skill but coaching fit. Lance is the bigger, stronger and more interesting athlete but Brock Purdy has the story. 

In this story Kyle Shanahan gets to remain the archetype. The genius play caller who can do it with any QB, even Mr. Irrelevant. 

Yet there is a catch…. Shanahan only remains a genius if Brock Purdy turns into a viable starter. Any other alternative would be disastrous for Shanahan and the 49ers front office.

The reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, have a QB that attracts and earns all the plaudits, Patrick Mahomes. The coach of this team Andy Reid doesn't need all the acclaim, coach Reid needs titles and accepts the passenger seat if it leads to a more successful team. 

When Kyle Shanahan trusts a QB enough to mirror this type of QB room, it is only then we as fans will see his system at full throttle.