49ers deal QB Lance to Cowboys for 4th-rounder

NFL

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Roughly two and a half years after the San Francisco 49ers drafted him to be their franchise quarterback, Trey Lance‘s time with the team is over.

Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Niners agreed to trade Lance to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fourth-round draft choice early Friday evening.

The deal puts a cap on a whirlwind 48 hours in which Lance was informed that Sam Darnold had beaten him out for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Brock Purdy, did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and then returned to the team facility on Thursday morning. Lance was slated to play in San Francisco’s exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday night but instead will head to Dallas to join his new team.

Speaking to KNBR radio on Thursday morning, Niners general manager John Lynch said he believed the “most likely” result would be Lance staying in San Francisco. But he also noted that if a deal could be worked out elsewhere, the Niners would accommodate a trade for Lance.

“If we can find a landing spot for Trey that is a really good one for him and works for our organization, that’s not something that we’d turn a blind eye to,” Lynch said.

Lance is scheduled to make $940,000 in 2023 and has a $5.3 million salary in 2024, all of which is guaranteed. Upon trading him, the Niners will incur dead money hits of $8,361,434 this year and $5,540,956 in 2024.

After this season, Dallas will get to decide on Lance’s fifth-year option for 2025.

Trade talks surrounded Lance all offseason after he suffered a broken right ankle in Week 2 of last season and Purdy staked his claim to the starting job with a finishing flourish down the stretch of last season.

When the Niners signed Darnold in March, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan indicated Lance and Darnold would compete for the No. 2 job behind Purdy. But Lynch also acknowledged that he received trade interest in Lance before the draft in April, noting that it would take something substantial in order to part with Lance.

That price dropped once Lance was demoted to the No. 3 spot on Wednesday, as the Niners began fielding calls from other teams. And on Friday, a deal with the Cowboys was completed.

The Niners original used the No. 3 overall pick on Lance in the 2021 NFL draft after trading three first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to acquire the selection.

San Francisco originally planned for Lance to play in limited packages behind then-starter Jimmy Garoppolo as a rookie but a broken right index finger suffered in the preseason scuttled any long-term plans that season and Lance had another setback with the ankle injury last year.

All told, Lance started four games and appeared in eight contests in his two seasons with the team. He completed 56-of-102 for 797 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions in his time with the team.

Lance’s eight games are the fewest played by a top-5 pick for the franchise he debuted with in the Common Draft Era (since 1967 and excluding the 2023 draft class), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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