From North Dakota State, the San Francisco 49ers' franchise quarterback of the future has emerged.
Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers zeroed in on their next star signal-caller when they orchestrated a trade for the third overall selection and all the speculation came to its conclusion in Cleveland.
Rumor became reality on Thursday evening as the 49ers selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Just how quickly Lance replaces incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo obviously remains to be seen, but San Francisco has its QB1 of the future. Just who the 49ers would take at No. 3 was a decision that lingered and was perhaps the draft's most-talked-about mystery coming in. Many believed it would be Alabama signal-caller Mac Jones, a notion that was much-scrutinized. Instead of trading up to get the Crimson Tide product, though, San Francisco went with the Bison standout.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Lance showcases a strong pocket presence, the ability to shake off defenders, the versatility to play under center and out of the shotgun and solid velocity on his ball. Having thrown just one interception in his 17-game college career, Lance's decision-making and accuracy are plusses, but he could likely use some time to develop.
Any time a high-profile player emerges from an FCS program, questions abound regarding the level of competition he faced, but Lance has the tools and intangibles.
He's the second North Dakota State player to be selected in the first round, following Carson Wentz' 2016 selection at No. 2 overall by the Eagles.
During his one full season starting for the Bison, Lance threw for 2,786 yards, completed 66.9% of his passes and tossed 28 touchdowns in 16 games with no interceptions.
Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and the 49ers had a vision of whom they wanted when they traded with the Dolphins for the third pick. That vision became a certainty on Thursday night.