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Trey strikes gold

Marshall native Trey Lance selected third overall by 49ers

AP photo North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance holds a San Francisco 49ers jersey after being chosen by the team with the third pick in the NFL Football Draft Thursday in Cleveland.

MARSHALL — It’s official: Trey is headed to the Bay.

Lance, a 2018 Marshall High School graduate and North Dakota State University quarterback was selected third overall in the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday evening in Cleveland, Ohio. And it went down to the final minutes before the Niners picked him.

“I just found out two minutes ago and it means the world,” he said shortly afterward. “I’m super excited, blessed and just thankful for everyone that helped me get to this point.”

Last month, the 49ers traded the 12th overall pick, two future first-round picks and a third-round pick in 2022 to Miami to be able to vault up to the No. 3 spot.

“We’re just blessed,” Trey’s father, Carlton said. “Trey put in the work, he listened to his coaches and had a passion for learning and a passion for trying to be the best he could and he believes in himself and that’s ultimately going to get him to where he’s at right now.”

After Jacksonville and the New York Jets took fellow quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence from Clemson and Zach Wilson from Brigham Young University with the first two selections, respectively — to no one’s surprise — there was a lot of speculation as to who would be drafted after that. But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said they’ve been high on Lance since the start.

“We’ve been very high on Trey since the beginning, since Day 1 and yes the person everyone is speculating about we liked him too,” Shanahan said in the press conference about selecting Lance. “When we made the trade, we knew exactly where we were going and what we were doing … I’m sure glad that we got our guy, I’m glad we feel so good about it and I’m just pumped to get him here.”

Shanahan added what attracted Trey’s ability to their organization was his natural ability to play the quarterback position and was intrigued by his dual-threat skills on the field.

“I could talk about that for a while because it goes into so many different areas. It always starts with me with the film, I try to watch a guy play the quarterback position, how he executes his own offense and just the natural feeling he has for the quarterback position, which that part entails getting the ball to the right spots,” Shanahan said. “I loved his natural ability to play the position, which was very impressive. And then when you add on a type of running element, which I’ve always been intrigued with, but when you’ve got a guy who’s got the skill-sets as far as speed and size to where you’re not going to make him a runner but if you get in certain formations where the defense knows you will run him if they don’t honor him, now everything’s different. If you can ever get a guy like that and make 11-on-11 football then you’ve got a guy who can change some things for you.”

San Francisco general manager John Lynch said they also got to know Trey and his family at the pro day in Fargo and came away very impressed with his character and how he and his family carried themselves.

“We got a good feel for who Trey is; I think one of the cool things for us at the pro day, walking out we made it a point to say hello to his parents and that was really cool because when you have a special young man like that the good Lord had a hand in that but there’s two parents that were very responsible for how this guy carries himself and it is very impressive,” Lynch said. “We got a chance to meet his dad Carlton and it turns out that Kyle was a ballboy in 1992 and he was in Niners camp in ’92 so we got to share some stories about that and his mom Angie and younger brother were there so it was fun to get to meet them. We were blown away by the type of person he is, the aptitude and the way he carries himself.”

At NDSU, Lance redshirted his first season and played in two games, completing a pass and scoring two touchdowns on the ground. He then became the full-time starter and reeled off one of the most outstanding seasons in college football.

Lance led the Bison to a perfect 16-0 season and its third consecutive National Championship and eighth in nine years, but his individual stats set numerous school records. He completed 66.9% of his passes (including setting a NCAA record for pass attempts without an interception at 287) while throwing for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns and added 169 carries on the ground for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also set the single-season school record for passing efficiency (180.6) and total offense (3,886). Lance also was named the most outstanding player in their 28-20 victory over James Madison during the FCS title game in January of 2020 was named the top offensive player in the FCS (Walter Payton Award) and the top freshman (Jerry Rice Award).

NDSU would have its 2020 fall season postponed to this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but played in an exhibition game on Oct. 3, 2020 against Central Arkansas. In what ended up being his final game in a Bison uniform, Lance completed 15 of his 30 passes for 149 yards and tossed two touchdowns and threw his only career interception after 307 consecutive pass attempts. On the ground, he used 15 carries to record 143 rushing yards and two more scores.

The 49ers currently have Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter, who helped lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl appearance after throwing for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns in the 2019 season. Last year, Garoppolo was derailed by ankle injuries and missed 10 games, with the Niners finishing 6-10.

Lance’s high school coach Terry Bahlmann had a strong feeling Trey would wind up on the west coast and is super happy for him and his family.

“I thought he was always going to go to the 49ers, but it’s just a surreal feeling; three years ago he was in the weight room with the other guys here putting in the work and everyone sees the finished product, but they don’t see all of the hard work and dedication he’s put in,” Bahlmann said. “Just to see him with tears in his eyes, I started to get tears in my eyes and I’m so happy for him and his family.”

Lance said as soon as he gets to the Bay, he’s going to give it his all.

“I’m just super excited to get to work, super excited to get to know my teammates and get in that locker room,” Lance said. “They’re going to get everything I’ve got, I promise you that.”

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