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49ers GM John Lynch: Trey Lance trade didn't work out, but 'thank God for Mr. Irrelevant'

The San Francisco 49ers are poised to make their first Round 1 selection since the ill-fated trade to snag Trey Lance at No. 3 overall in 2021.

The move to trade for Lance didn't work out, as the quarterback started just four games in two seasons for the Niners before being shipped to Dallas for a fourth-round pick. Fortunately for general manager John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers' brass, they stumbled into Brock Purdy the following year with the 262nd overall pick, the final selection in the 2022 draft.

If not for unearthing Purdy, the Niners could be in a predicament under center, but Lynch isn't using the Lance failure to scare him off any future moves in the draft. Rather, it simply informs their experience.

"I think, first of all, we have an ownership that's very supportive, and they support us greatly," he said on Monday, via the team's official transcript. "Jed, John, Denise, Jenna, Mara [York] they believe in Kyle and I and our leadership. And they believe when we think something's going to make us better, they say, go for it. And they don't give us a lot of restrictions there and that's comforting to know we can go be bold and do things like that. And yeah, we gave up a lot. We did it for reasons that we had and motivations and it didn't work out.

But thank God for Mr. Irrelevant [Purdy]. He helped us."

The GM noted that the Niners moving on from Lance displayed the organization's strength.

"I always am careful of this because Trey Lance's story hasn't been written yet," Lynch said. "He's in Dallas right now and I still think Trey's got good football in him. We'll see. That will play out. But I think also the freedom when you've done something, and you feel like maybe it can improve us to move on, we aren't beholden to, well we drafted the guy, we've just got to stick it out. We can do the things we want to do. And I think that's served us well, and people can comment on the thought process that went into it. We certainly study it, say what went right, what went wrong, and we do that with all our picks. But I think we're in a real good place as a football team, as an organization, and we've got to find a way to get a little bit better. And that's the focus of this whole offseason. And this draft is an awesome opportunity to do just that."

Purdy's ascension from Mr. Irrelevant to Super Bowl starter has allowed Lynch and Shanahan freedom to build a roster with highly paid players like Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Christian McCaffrey, Javon Hargrave, Fred Warner, etc. One big question is whether Brandon Aiyuk will join those ranks this offseason.

With the QB eligible for an extension next offseason, the Niners will no longer benefit from paying Purdy peanuts compared to starters at his position. Lynch dismissed the idea that reality makes Thursday's first rounder -- and the 10 selections they have to spend -- more vital.

"I think you're always thinking about that position and to know we have an answer there and a really good one, that's comforting," Lynch said. "It allows us just to go and build around him and make our team stronger. And I think very highly of our roster, what we have. I think it's going to be hard for these young kids to come in and make a mark. But there's good players, and that's our job to find that because you have to have that. As many of our players as we've paid, you have to rely on rookie contracts. And so, we need to infuse all those things that I said earlier, and we need some players to come out of this draft because they're going to be playing next year and into the future. And that opportunity's there."

Currently, three of the Niners' 10 picks reside in the top 100.

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