San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was vacationing in Mexico when the 49ers' quarterback hunt went very public.
They had traded up to No. 3, climbing nine spots on March 26 to assure themselves a shot at Trey Lance, the North Dakota State product who wowed them initially with his game film and then with his social interactions.
Most outsiders overlooked the 49ers' infatuation with Lance. Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were secret admirers.
"I was in Mexico the day we made the trade and within hours there's at least two people out there speculating that we're taking Mac Jones," Shanahan recalled Thursday night. "Ever since then I've just watched every single person assume that was accurate, that those weren't opinions but fact.
"We didn't feel that way from the beginning. I know how we felt about Trey the whole time."
Here are five areas Lance won over the 49ers more than Justin Fields (No. 11 pick, Chicago Bears) and Jones (No. 15, New England Patriots):
1. GAME FILM
The biggest knock on Lance is he has a small sample size from a small school, all due respect to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, which opted out of the 2020 season aside from one game. His 318 passes were the fewest by a first-round quarterback in the last 40 years, ESPN reported.
The Bison's undefeated run to the FCS national championship in 2019 provided an ample amount of clips for the 49ers' chief film critic, Shanahan.
"When I go back through my notes and sort on a computer and watch all his good plays, there's 160 of them," Shanahan said. "That's a lot of good tape for me.
"You always want more. You'd rather have a 2020 year, but maybe that's a blessing, maybe you get a 2020 year and he's not available at 3."
Shanahan marks down plusses and minuses when watching film. Lance had 160, "a lot" more than others. He got the ball to the right spots. He's now in the right spot, the 49ers hope.
2. SOCIAL SKILLS
"When you watch the film and see such a true quarterback in every aspect of how he plays," Shanahan said, "then you meet him, and you're like, 'This guy doesn't have to be a quarterback, he can be a CEO of some company.' That's a huge compliment."
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch flew to Fargo, N.D. on April 19 for Lance's second pro-day workout, but to also interact face-to-face with him and his family. Shanahan saw how teammates gravitated toward Lance, heard how they praised him in television interviews.
"He's very impressive in terms of his intellect, how he deals with people and social situations," Shanahan said. "I looked at him as a CEO of a company, if I ever knew anything about that stuff. He's a hell of a quarterback and is someone I believe in and someone that I want to go to work with."
Before they left, they made sure to meet his parents, Carlton and Angie, and younger brother Bryce, a Marshall High senior and NDSU commit. "To my parents, it meant the world to them and to my younger brother, just taking the time to say hi," Lance said. "That means a lot, not just for me as a football player but as a person."
3. OFFENSIVE VARIETY
The 49ers have a dual-threat quarterback for the first time since Colin Kaepernick in 2011-16. So how does Shanahan envision adding that extra layer to his offense?
"I loved his natural ability to play the position, which was very impressive. And then you add on a type of running element, which I've always been intrigued with," Shanahan said. "But when you've got a guy who's got the skillset as far as speed and size, to where you're not going to make him a runner."
But if you get in certain formations, you will run him if they don't honor him, and now everything's different. ... You've got a guy who can change some things for you."
Lance took more snaps under center and did more play-action work than Fields and Jones, which helped Shanahan's evaluation but was not an ultimate factor in his selection. It didn't hurt, though.
"The ability in having to learn the offense (at NDSU), whether it was play action, calling protection at the line, I was super blessed to have a coaching staff that trusted me and believed in me to make those decisions," Lance said. "That was a huge advantage for me."
4. WILLINGNESS TO LEARN
Carlton Lance, in an interview last week with this newspaper, said his son went to North Dakota State fully intending to redshirt his first year to learn behind starter Easton Stick, the Bison's successor to 2018 No. 2 draft pick Carson Wentz.
That apprenticeship served Lance well, obviously, with an undefeated march to the 2019 national title with 28 touchdown passes, 14 touchdown runs and no interceptions.
"I'm focused on getting there, learning as much as I possibly can, getting to know Jimmy (Garoppolo) and the guys in the room, and learning, becoming close with him, and learning as much as I can, and obviously competing," Lance said.
Learning. Learning. Learning.
He'll do so from Shanahan, offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and, yes, Garoppolo, who look off the trading block and in the 2021 fold as the incumbent starter.
"It would be a very tough situation if Jimmy's not on our team," Shanahan said. "I want Jimmy to be here and I want this kid to be brought along, I want to see how he does. If it turns into a competition, I'd be excited about that, if he showed he was ready for that."
5. HIS HUMILITY
Lance didn't react to the No. 3 spot as if that is what he deserved. He considered the draft process a much longer "job interview" than he ever imagined. And it paid off great.
"I've watched my worst moments on film probably a million times, whether it was from only playing 17 games or over Zoom meetings the last six months," Lance said. "(Shanahan) is going to continue to teach me and coach me a lot, him and coach Scangarello and the rest of the coaching staff and quarterbacks in the room.
"I don't think I could be in a better situation," Lance added. "I'm just super excited to get there and learn."
Lance is expected at the 49ers' facility on Friday, when they'll be debating later in the afternoon what teammates to add with their second- and third-round picks.
"The blessing of it all was that we got to tell Trey Lance and Trey Lance didn't know before that," Lynch said of informing Lance on the clock he was their pick. "We got to make a young man's dream, a family's dream. We got to know a person that impressed us as much on the field as off the field. He was outstanding."
Lance talked about earning not just teammates' respect, but a mutual respect. Garoppolo is a team captain, and Lance is not acting like he's ready to strip away teammates' loyalty, and not just teammates'.
"It's about treating people the right way and leaving an impact on them that's bigger than football," Lance said. "I don't believe I'm on earth to be a football player."
Shanahan became so enamoured with him as a football player, initially, that he called Lynch one Sunday night this offseason and said, "Dude, I am getting obsessed with this guy," Lynch recalled on ESPN's SportsCenter.
Added Lynch: "We were blown away by the person, the aptitude and the way he carries himself."