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The Source of Trey Lance's Failure Has Been Identified: He Got the Dreaded Colin Cowherd Seal of Approval on Draft Night

Thearon W. Henderson. Getty Images.

After just two seasons, 262 total snaps, and just 102 pass attempts, the quarterback the 49ers braintrust gambled the future of the franchise on currently finds himself at the bottom of the depth chart, looking up at Sam Darnold and Brock Purdy.

Reags is, of course, correct. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan invested three 1st round picks and a $27 million rookie deal to put Trey Lance in the driver's seat of their entire franchise, and he's never made it out of the parking lot. 

But as always when a Top 3 pick implodes faster and more spectacularly than anything Oppenheimer could've imagined, there are many contributing factors. And the one that mitigates this disaster the most for Lance is something that was out of his young, ND State Bison hands. He's a victim of the one thing no athlete can control and are powerless to stop. 

The Colin Cowherd Effect:

"I think it's the right pick. I think he's a bigger, stronger athlete than Mac Jones. … He has as many starts as Mac Jones. But unlike Mac, he didn't have the protection. He didn't have the receivers that were wide open. … This is the move. I'm sorry, but I can't go 'low ceiling' with Mac Jones."

Put these words on a spoon, put a Bic lighter under them, and let me … smoke them? Snort them? I don't know how drugs work. I just know they destroy lives and communities. The point I'm going for is I love to hear this knowing where we are two years later. 

Let us never forget that when Lynch and Shanahan made that monster trade to move up to No. 3, it was assumed by everyone that Jones was the reason. In fact, when Jones fell all the way to New England at 15, the radical anti-Patriots fundamentalists in the Boston media were trying to use the Niners deal to argue that Belichick doesn't really like Jones, because if he did, he'd have traded up to get him. And presumably they were being serious. Not congratulating GM Bill for landing HC Bill the quarterback he wanted from a system he's familiar with without investing any extra draft capital. Actually trying to use the fact he was shrewd, patient and read the draft board perfectly against him. Those are the kinds of Crazy Pills you have to swallow when you're emotionally attached to this team. 

As far as Cowherd's - and I'm using this term very, very loosely - reasoning here, how's that "low ceiling" looking right about now? Because Jones is looking up at Bill O'Brien's blend of Patriots and Alabama's schemes, plus elements he developed at Penn State and in Houston. While Lance is looking up at Sam Darnold's ballbag. 

And that argument about how Mac had better weapons around him so he can't really be that good is the most tired, lazy, debunked trope in all of football. Worse, it's completely illogical. As Bill Walsh used to say about scouting, "Look at the tape. Watch the player. Nothing else around him matters." So Jones had great talent around him. You know where half of that talent was? On the opposing defense, you ignorant twit. He was dropping anvils on Ohio State's head in the BCS Bowl (36 of 45, 464 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs while taking his foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter), just like he had over Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn, Georgia. While your guy Lance was going to battle against Eastern Washington, Western Illinois and Maine. Is there any surprise that one of them has been to a Pro Bowl and led a team to the playoffs and the other hasn't proven he can function against NFL caliber talent?

But it should be said none of this is Trey Lance's fault. He can't help it if Shanahan couldn't coach him up the way Josh McDaniels and now O'Brien have Jones. And for sure he's can't control the uninformed nonsense that comes out of Colin Cowherd's trap. Any more than the members of the late Dwayne Haskins' family can

So let's take this moment to put one thing in perspective. Generally speaking, people are down on Mac Jones because he struggled last year an inexperienced coordinator, O-line coach and QB coach faking it until they made it. And they never did. But unlike Lance, he's landed in the perfect situation for him and will be back to winning immediately. And also unlike Lance, Jones is fortunate that he wasn't a victim of Colin Cowherd's cuckoo yip yap.