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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

Trey Area to Trey Hysteria: How San Francisco dropped the ball.

In March 2021, the 49ers negotiated a deal with the Miami Dolphins for the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers selected QB Trey Lance in exchange for the 12th overall pick, a 1st-round pick in 2022, a 3rd-round pick in 2022, and a 1st-round pick in 2023.

The Dolphins turned those three first-round picks into WR Tyreek Hill, WR Jaylen Waddle, and DE/LB Bradley Chubb. To get Waddle, Miami traded their 12th overall pick and 2022 1st-round pick for Philadelphia’s 6th overall pick.

The Eagles profited substantially off the Dolphins’ two first-round picks. Philadelphia selected the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, WR DeVonta Smith, with the 12th pick in 2021 and traded for WR AJ Brown with the Dolphins’ 2022 first-round pick and a 3rd-round pick of their own.

Despite their independence of the 2021 trade for Lance, the Eagles’ and Dolphins’ secondary trades for Tyreek Hill and AJ Brown outline the star power to which San Francisco passed. While Lance played just eight games in two years for the 49ers, the Eagles and Dolphins flourished in 2022 as a direct result of the 2021 trade.

Last season, Tyreek Hill and AJ Brown debuted for the Dolphins and Eagles, respectively. Hill caught 119 balls for 1710 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Brown caught 88 balls for a franchise record 1496 yards and 11 touchdowns. Their Alabama counterparts, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, caught 75 balls for 1356 yards and 8 touchdowns and a franchise record 95 balls for 1196 yards and 7 touchdowns, respectively.

Thus, the 49ers initiated and finalized one of the worst trades in modern NFL history. Altogether, San Francisco passed on two All-Pro receivers, two Pro Bowl receivers, and one former 5th overall pick for an unproven, rookie quarterback.

Trey Lance is no longer the starting quarterback in San Francisco and was recently passed over for the back-up job by Sam Darnold. Inevitably, the 49ers found a trade partner, the Dallas Cowboys. San Francisco dealt the former 3rd overall pick to Dallas for a 2024 4th-round pick.

When asked about the trade, 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan was blunt:

“To end up getting the 4th is a little better than we anticipated.”

49ers’ general manager John Lynch had this to say about the entire Lance stiuation:

“We took a shot and it didn’t work out… We take accountability for it.”

He continued, “(Lance’s) story is still unwritten. Dallas stepped up and really wanted him… Circumstances took hold and (Lance) struggled through injuries. This team is ready to win, and we like our quarterback room. We wish Trey all the best in Dallas.”

In the most unrehearsed way possible, Kyle Shanahan also admitted, “we took our shot and it didn’t work out.”

If there is any silver lining for San Fran fans and the team’s humiliated front office, the 49ers selected a promising young quarterback, Brock Purdy, in the 2022 NFL Draft. Purdy led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last season before tearing his UCL in a 31-7 loss against the Eagles.

While the future is bright in San Francisco, “Trey Area” will be more irrelevant than Mr. Irrelevant come Week 1, as the 49ers look to reset and make another playoff run.

What could’ve been…

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