While that doesn’t seem like a particularly sound idea given the team’s struggles at the position the last six years, there’s a chance a club hits them with an offer they can’t refuse.
The reality is Lance has two years left on his rookie contract (plus the fifth-year team option) and his path forward has significant road blocks according to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. They could just hold onto him and get nothing when he walks away in free agency. Or they could try and recoup some value in this year’s draft where they don’t pick until No. 99 at the end of the third round.
What might a team offer for Lance? We reached out to the editors for the NFL Wire sites to get an idea of what they’d be willing to part with for the QB. Here are those offers and whether the 49ers would do each deal:
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49ers get: 2023 second-round pick No. 43
This kind of deal is one that would make the 49ers really think. There’s a value problem for them with Lance, and securing a pick in the middle of the second round is probably the best they’ll be able to do given the QB’s lack of playing time and injury history.
If the Aaron Rodgers deal falls through and New York called the 49ers with this offer, and San Francisco truly believes Lance has no future with their club, then it’s hard to see the trade not being executed. The chances the 49ers ever get an offer better than this are pretty low.
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Texans get: Trey Lance, 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 173) and 2024 seventh-round pick
49ers get: 2023 third-round pick (No. 73), fifth-round pick (No. 161), sixth-round pick (No. 203) and 2024 sixth-round pick
This is a pretty realistic offer, but it highlights the nigh impossible needle the 49ers are trying to thread here. San Francisco has a former No. 3 overall pick who is still a question mark. They may want to get something for him in a trade, but at some point they have to be getting some kind of value back. Unloading Lance for what amounts to third and sixth-round picks in 2023 with a couple of pick swaps doesn’t quite amount to strong value, especially for a club already with 11 picks late in the 2023 draft.
If the 49ers wanted to trade up to the No. 73 range, they could package a couple of their current picks to move up there without unloading the QB.
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49ers get: One of Denver’s third-round picks
Broncos Wire editor Jon Heath tried to unload Russell Wilson’s contract in this deal. That’s not something any team, much less the 49ers, are going to take on at this point.
Denver dealing for Lance would be contingent on some sort of Wilson deal since trading for him with Wilson on the team puts the Broncos in the same bind the 49ers are in with the timing on Lance’s contract.
Let’s go to the world where they do want to trade for Lance though, the offer from the Broncos Wire included one of the team’s third-round picks (either No. 67 or No. 68 overall). That’d be enough to make the 49ers think, but it’s short of what would really make sense for them.
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49ers get: 2023 second-round pick (No. 50)
Tampa Bay’s offer lands in the same realm as the Jets’ offer. It’s a mid-second-round selection this year which would allow the 49ers to add a real impact player without making a massive move up using their own picks.
Our imaginary line has been a top-50 pick, and this narrowly checks that box. A top 50 pick with their bevy of other selections might allow the 49ers to trade up into the first round. If this offer is put on the table, it would likely be the best one and San Francisco would have a hard time saying “no.”
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Vikings get: Trey Lance and 2023 third-round pick (No. 99)
49ers get: Kirk Cousins
Every 49ers fan’s eye just twitched. The problem with trading for Cousins is San Francisco doesn’t need a starting-caliber QB in the deal, much less an expensive one. Unless Brock Purdy’s recovery from elbow surgery goes poorly in which case they may not want to deal Lance anyway.
There’s also the issue of the 49ers unloading their first pick in this year’s draft, which is hard to imagine they’d do for a player like Cousins. If the player was the same caliber at a different position – maybe San Francisco thinks about it. For now, they’re hanging up the phone.
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49ers get: Matthew Stafford
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK
The Titans Wire didn’t make an offer. They’ll surely be among the teams calling the 49ers if they’re not already. Titans general manager Ran Carthon joined Tennessee from San Francisco’s front office this offseason and has a good relationship with Lance. They’re looking at the post-Ryan Tannehill era and Lance should be an option they consider. They have pick No. 41 in this year’s draft, which would be the best offer out of this group and one the 49ers wouldn’t be able to say no to.