Now that the dust has (semi) settled, the league, pundits and fans alike are finally plugged in with who the San Francisco 49ers had their eye on with the No. 3 overall pick. It was evident San Francisco wanted to land a quarterback of the future following last month's trade. But the often-debated (and overanalyzed) question was, which one?
On Thursday, the 49ers put an end to the suspense by selecting North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, who was repeatedly mocked to the 49ers as a signal caller who could develop and thrive under the guidance of Kyle Shanahan.
Before the event ended, national media had already begun compiling grades for all of the NFL's Night 1 picks. Here's how various media outlets scored the 49ers first-round selection.
Fox Sports: A
"Question the level of competition all that you want, Lance never threw a single interception while leading his team to a national title in 2018. Boasting a bazooka of an arm with the accuracy on the move that perfectly fits Kyle Shanahan's West Coast-based offense, Lance is an ideal schematic fit, joining one of the NFL's most talented teams. With a steady veteran in Jimmy Garoppolo already in the fold, the 49ers can be patient and not rush Lance onto the field too soon – taking the same approach Kansas City used with Patrick Mahomes. It might take a year before he is the starter, but Lance is going to be a star."
"The move up to the No. 3 slot last month was a clear sign the 49ers wanted to upgrade at quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo has not been able to stay healthy for much of his time with the Niners. It was time to find another option.
"Lance is an outstanding prospect who immediately came to mind when the Niners made that trade. His 2019 film (North Dakota State played only one game last fall), physical abilities and mental makeup will win the heart of San Francisco. Lance will be able to learn a pro offense quickly while also creating plays outside the pocket when things break down. This was the correct pick, whether Garoppolo stays for 2021 or not."
"Trey Lance is simultaneously the draft class' biggest enigma and its most polished quarterback prospect.
"From an evaluation standpoint, Lance is only 20 years old with one full year of starting experience. He attempted 318 passes. For comparison, Alabama's Mac Jones is the next lowest among projected first-round quarterbacks with 556 career passes.
"To be fair, Lance fully capitalized on his 17 starts. During that span, the Bison didn't lose a game and won a national championship, while he posted a 30-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and earned the distinction of being the FCS' best player by winning the Walter Payton Award.
"As an athlete, Lance has a thickly built lower half. He creates significant power through his thighs and hips. As such, he generates significant velocity on his throws while simultaneously being capable of running by or through defenders. He is a significant threat as a passer and runner (1,325 career rushing yards and 18 touchdowns).
"The bonus of Lance playing for the Bison program is he's a true pro-style quarterback. He already understands pre- and post-snap reads. He was consistently asked to make all of the necessary drops and rely heavily on play action. The class' youngest quarterback shouldn't be overwhelmed by an NFL playbook.
"While Lance doesn't have the experience at the highest level everyone prefers, he's the most ready prospect to take over San Francisco's offense. North Dakota State's attack lends well to what head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to accomplish.
"Lance worked extensively from under center, played in a heavy play-action scheme and will add a completely different dynamic to the offense.
"When San Francisco traded up, many immediately looked toward Alabama's Mac Jones as the likely selection. But Jones never made sense because he would have been a cog in the machine. Lance adds so much more from an athletic perspective.
"'On film, you don't realize how big he is because he is so athletic,' a coach told The Athletic's Bruce Feldman. "He was much bigger than we thought he was. That size, athleticism and arm are so rare at this level.
"Once Lance is ready to take over the offense, the 49ers will feature the most unstoppable unit."
"The 49ers pulled off a mild shocker by going with the high-ceiling prospect vs. the high floor of Mac Jones. Lance is also a highly intelligent passer capable of making all the throws and offers a special brand of athleticism Jones can't. Lance needs some development to hone his skills, but he gets into a great passer-friendly system and inherits a loaded supporting cast to boost him under Kyle Shanahan. Look for Lance to start sooner rather than later and take a top offense to an unprecedented level."
USA Today: B+
"The first surprise of the draft, but it shouldn't be. Lance is a dynamic talent who can beat opposing defenses with impressive arm talent as well as top-level athleticism. He's still a work in progress, but considering how good he already is, that's good news for the 49ers. He can sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo until he's ready, and he might have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class, including Trevor Lawrence. I still would have taken Justin Fields, but Lance is a much better choice than Mac Jones."
The Athletic: B+
"He's legitimately one of the most difficult quarterback evaluations of all-time. Lance (6-foot-4, 224) has the size and athleticism teams covet. During his one full season as a starter, he threw 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards and 14 scores as a 19-year-old. But level of competition was obviously a factor, and Lance played just one game last year.
If you're a 49ers fan, you have to be excited about this pick after weeks of Mac Jones rumors. There are no guarantees. Only 42 percent of first-round quarterbacks over the past 10 years have made it to a second contract with the team that picked them. But Lance has smarts and athleticism and offers a huge upside. The 49ers goal now immediately becomes to maximize their chances of competing for a Super Bowl while Lance is on a rookie contract."
"Our first stunner. There has never been a pick quite like it this high up in the draft. Perhaps you can go back to Steve McNair from Alcorn State for a comp. But the 49ers are banking on the tremendous upside of Lance — 318 college pass attempts — over the steadiness of Mac Jones. When will Lance see the field? Another huge mystery."
"Thank God this team dodged a bullet. I truly believe there was equal chance the team could have taken either Lance or Mac Jones, and of those two players the team made the right choice. That said, this is a big, big, big risk. It's not about spending a third-overall pick on Lance, it's about spending THREE first round picks on him. There's a chance that pans out, but part of me will wonder forever if the 49ers needed to move up to No. 3 so early in the process instead of waiting and seeing if they could have given up less to make this pick."