The 49ers are closing the books on a historic draft mistake

The 49ers are lucky they have a great team. They were even luckier, and with the last pick of the 2022 draft, they threw a dart that landed on a potential franchise quarterback.

However, the 49ers 2021 draft pick No. None of this changes the fact that they made a historic mistake by trading up from No. 12 to No. 3 and selecting quarterback Trey Lance. Usually, bad teams make these mistakes. No elite team has ever made a move at the top of the draft so poorly.

That’s not to say Lance is a bust. We don’t know what Lance is and what he will become. We do know that after two seasons, the 49ers abandoned ship on Lance and traded three first-round picks, a third-round pick and $27 million for a fourth-round pick.

“Obviously we took our shot and it didn’t pay off,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after Friday night’s game against the Chargers. “So, it’s on us. But I’m not going to call anything ‘failure.’

But it is was A failure, and the negative should be on Shanahan and those who advised him: (1) make a trade; and (2) take the player. Moving up to a player and making such an investment puts too much pressure on everyone, especially the player.

Think of what they gave up. They bundled the 12th overall pick, two more first-rounders and a third-rounder for a guy who appeared in eight games with four starts. They could have kept their other picks and taken the best guy at No. 12 and let them play the board.

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Those other two first-round picks and that third-round pick could have become significant contributors to the 49ers, rather than a command of low-cost, quality players.

But they were disappointed. With one quarterback Shanahan refusing to scout (Patrick Mahomes) and another quarterback Shanahan politely refusing to sign (Tom Brady) in the Super Bowl, Shanahan decided to go all in. It exploded in his face like a loaded cartoon cigar.

It’s a failure. Clear and simple. A series of them, actually.

Not looking for Mahomes is a failure. Failing to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo instead of waiting for Kirk Cousins. It was the failure to pass on Tom Brady, the failure to trade, the failure to take Lance.

The only thing Shanahan gets right when it comes to quarterbacks is a look-what-I-found accident, taking a flyer on a player picked last in the draft for a reason. But it is not strategy or skill. It’s dumb luck.

Some say it’s better to be lucky than good. Bullcrap, I say. Good will last. Fortunately for Shanahan, the 49ers are just fine. Even luckier for Shanahan, he lucked into the most important position on the field — after Stepping on the racks is more than a sideshow pop.

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