49ers trade quarterback Trey Lance to the Cowboys

The San Francisco 49ers officially ended their bold but unfortunate move two years ago, signing quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in the NFL draft. They agreed Friday to trade Lance to the Dallas Cowboys for a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Lance, 23, will become the Cowboys’ third quarterback behind starter Dak Prescott and reliable backup Cooper Rush. Dallas inherits a contract that pays Lance a guaranteed $6.24 million over the next two seasons, with $940,000 this season and about $5.3 million in the 2024 season.

The 49ers are finalizing their 2021 deals to sign Lance as their future franchise quarterback. That deal is now being branded a blunder by coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, as Lance will be replaced for modest compensation after making just four regular season starts for the 49ers. However, they can take solace in the fact that their miscalculation with Lance was offset, at least in part, by the good fortune to pick Brock Purdy as a final pick in last year’s draft.

Purdy quickly evolved from the “Mr. Irrelevant” into a successful starter. Following the injuries to Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, he took over as the 49ers’ starter last season and led the team to wins in each of his first seven starts, including two in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers reached the NFC Championship game but lost unilaterally in Philadelphia after being left without healthy quarterbacks for much of the game due to injuries to Purdy and Josh Johnson.

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Purdy has returned from offseason elbow surgery and is slated to be the starter, and newcomer Sam Darnold won his preseason contest with Lance for the backup quarterback job. The 49ers also have Brandon Allen if they choose to keep three quarterbacks in their season-opening roster.

Lynch confirmed the trade in an appearance during the broadcast the 49ers preseason game on Friday night.

“A really tough day,” Lynch said. “Such a wonderful young man. You know, we tried and it didn’t work. This is ours. We take responsibility for it. But I think, as do you, that his story is still largely unwritten. And I’m happy for Trey. Dallas stepped forward and desperately wanted him, and they were after him. And I think it will be a great place to land for him.”

The 49ers excused Lance from practice Wednesday after Shanahan told the young quarterback he lost the contest with Darnold for second place. Lance returned to the team’s training facility on Thursday. He was scheduled to play the Los Angeles Chargers in Friday’s preseason game. Instead, he will join the Cowboys for his second NFL opportunity.

“I can tell anyone it wasn’t because of a lack of effort from Trey or us that it didn’t work,” Lynch said Friday night. “Circumstances increased and he was struggling with injuries. And this team is ready to win. We like our quarterback room. We really like Brock Purdy. We like Sam Darnold and we like Brandon Allen. So we wish Trey well in Dallas.” We will always take care of this young man and admire his work ethic and the person he is.”

Dallas could also keep Lance for the 2025 season by exercising the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Otherwise, after two seasons with the Cowboys, he’ll be eligible for free agency.

Lynch had said in a radio interview Thursday the “most likely” outcome was Lance staying with the 49ers. But the manager had also left open the possibility of negotiating a deal for Lance.

There have been arguments that the 49ers should keep Lance as they used Lance, Garoppolo and Purdy as starters last season and Purdy has had surgery. Instead, they will trust Purdy to remain healthy and regain his rookie-season magic while leading one of the most talented teams in the league to the Super Bowl push. And they hope Darnold can be a trusted alternative when the need arises.

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The 49ers advanced from 12th to third overall in the 2021 draft to maneuver themselves into position and pick Lance. They sent the 12th pick and two other first-rounders — one in last year’s draft and one in this year’s draft — and a third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins in a pre-draft deal last year. There was some speculation at the time that the 49ers were focusing on Mac Jones as their favorite quarterback. Instead, they got Lance after Trevor Lawrence was picked first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars and fellow quarterback Zach Wilson was second behind the New York Jets.

A broken finger hampered Lance’s progress during his rookie season serving as Garoppolo’s backup. The 49ers stuck by Lance and used him as their starter last season, with plans to move from Garoppolo. But Lance’s season ended when he fractured his ankle in the second game. The 49ers turned their attention back to Garoppolo, who had surprisingly re-signed with the team, but his foot injury in early December gave Purdy his chance.

Lance played in eight regular-season games for the 49ers, completing 56 of 102 passes for 797 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/08/25/trey-lance-49ers-cowboys-trade/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage 49ers trade quarterback Trey Lance to the Cowboys

Ian Walker

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