49ers GM John Lynch reveals process of Trey Lance trade

Aug 26, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 7:01 am

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the second half of a preseason game agains...

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The last 72 hours have been filled with uncertainty for 49ers general manager John Lynch, stuck in an uncertain and impossible situation with Trey Lance.

After batting with fellow quarterback Sam Darnold for the backup to Brock Purdy this summer, Lance was told he’d be the team’s third option Wednesday. That left both sides in an uncomfortable situation, wanting to keep the relationship alive, but knowing it had run its’ course already.

Choosing to trade the former first-round pick, the GM of the 49ers described how Friday’s trade with Dallas came about.

“I guess that was Wednesday when [coach] Kyle [Shanahan] informed Trey of the decision with Sam being the number two,” John Lynch told the media after Friday’s loss. “I think that led to just some organic conversations between them. And Kyle came up to my office and just said, ‘Hey, as we started talking, Trey’s like he always is, he’s all in.’ But he did suggest and ask, ‘Hey, if we could find the right opportunity that he would appreciate that.'”

At the end of the day, Trey Lance needs reps in order or improve, whether that’s in-game or practice. That wasn’t going to happen in San Francisco this season.

Because of that, Lynch & Co. feel a bit of remorse for how his 49ers’ tenure played out, taking responsibility for not getting him more opportunities on the field.

“He needs to play to get better. And I think that’s going to be his opportunity. [By] play, I mean, ideally games, but play is running scout team, play is doing all those things. We weren’t going to have that. And so how do you allow a player to grow? And so, back to what we put into him, we take, believe me, we take full accountability. We own that,” Lynch stated.

Another reason for the rushed conclusion was draft compensation.

The 49ers had been holding out moderate value for the former third-overall pick. After shopping him in the spring, to no avail, the Red & Gold finally received a fourth-round offer from the Cowboys that was too good to pass up.

“It’s not what it looked like when we first started having the conversation. It wasn’t anywhere close. So, it did advance in a hurry today. I’m not doing cartwheels over it because my preference would’ve been that it worked out, and it didn’t. And there’s circumstances for that, and we can explain them away, but the reality is the reality. He had a couple opportunities. I think injuries played a part, and where we’re at as a team, we felt like this was the best situation for us. Also, the best situation for him,” John Lynch explained.

That decision didn’t come lightly though, with both Lance and Darnold neck-&-neck for the QB2 spot. In the end, the veteran won out, with the 49ers’ GM showing faith in his coaching staff that they made the right decision.

“I think it was a tight battle and I think Kyle would say the same thing. But ultimately, coaches are paid to make those decisions and they felt collectively that Sam had separated himself and that wasn’t for lack of Trey competing his tail off. He improved greatly. So, I think we were real proud of the effort he made,” Lynch said.

And thanks to steady improvement, the 49ers still believe he will have a successful career in the NFL.

“I think his story is very much unwritten. I’ve got a lot of belief in the kid and think with his talent, with his work ethic he’s going to forge a nice career in this thing.”

Still only 23 years old, Trey Lance will look to earn playing time behind starter Dak Prescott. But given the veteran’s injury history, an opportunity could present itself in the next year or so.

As for how he left the 49ers organization? With class, according to John Lynch Friday.

The North Dakota State standout even apologized to his former team for his lack of consistency over the last few years. The 49ers’ GM let him off the hook, of course, rooting for him & his NFL journey.

“He was very appreciative of the opportunity. Like Trey, typical Trey, he apologized to us and there was nothing for him to apologize for. And we’re happy that he’s got a spot. The Cowboys came up big and I think that’s an indication that they’re excited to have him and we’re excited for Trey’s new opportunity. And we’ll always be big fans,” Lynch said.

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