Jerry Rice predicted 49ers' pick of 'special' Trey Lance in NFL draft

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Rice predicted 49ers drafting Lance, knew he'd be special originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Trey Lance has much to prove if and when he takes over the 49ers' starting quarterback position. But he’s got a lot of people rooting for him and betting that he’ll go down in history -- including the greatest wide receiver of all time.

Jerry Rice is on board the Trey Lance hype train, starting from even before the 49ers took him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“I knew Trey was going to be special from the first day I talked to him,” Rice said in an interview with Boardroom. “I told him right before the draft, ‘You’re going to be a San Francisco 49er.’ He was like, ‘No way, no way.'”

As it turned out, the 49ers went with Lance out of North Dakota State, betting on him as their quarterback of the future. The current situation under center is fluid and perhaps a bit awkward, as the 49ers have been unable so far to find a trade partner to take Jimmy Garoppolo, which would clear the way for Lance to take over the helm.

Regardless, when that day happens, Rice is already sold on Lance’s qualities as a dual-threat quarterback.

“This guy, he has all the tools,” Rice said. “He’s got that rocket arm. And the thing too that he’s going to bring to the table: mobility. Being able to get outside, extend plays, do all of those things and still have the vision downfield where he can use that arm to get the ball to his playmakers.”

Rice added that he believes Lance is not just a great athlete, “but he’s going to inspire everyone around him to be great.”

RELATED: Why Steve Young can't say if Lance is 'ready' or not to start

Lance told Boardroom that he first met Rice when the quarterback won the Jerry Rice Award for the nation’s most outstanding freshman player in the FCS in 2019.

“The type of person he is and the energy he has every day? It’s hard not to get inspired,” Lance said of Rice.

Lance is just 22, and he will likely have some growing pains when he steps into a full-time NFL starting role. But with mentors like Rice in his corner, the youngster will have plenty of tools and resources to make the 49ers’ investment in him pay off.

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