Menlo Football Fans React to the 2021 NFL Draft


Staff illustration: Sophie Fang.

Ari Krane, Video Editor

The NFL Draft lasted from Thursday, Apr. 30 to Saturday, May 1 — an event Menlo students highly anticipated. As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell read the names of the first round selections, Menlo football enthusiasts speculated who their favorite team would pick. 

Being in the Bay Area, many Menlo students are San Francisco 49ers fans. The 49ers held the third pick in the draft, a selection that could change the course of the franchise in the future. The likely selections were narrowed down to Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, North Dakota State QB Trey Lance and Alabama QB Mac Jones.

On Thursday, Apr. 30, the night of the first round, a group of Menlo NFL fans huddled around a phone live-streaming the draft. As Goodell walked out to announce the pick, chants of “Justin Fields” rang out across Wunderlich field. The group went silent as Goodell prepared to announce the pick. 

“With the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Trey Lance,” Goodell announced. 

“Oh, no!” sophomore Aidan Zhou yelled. 

“I wanted Justin Fields,” freshman Ben Kossow said. 

The group of roughly 20 people surrounding the phone were stunned. They didn’t know how to react to the pick. Trey Lance was sort of a wildcard as he came from the least well-known program, and he had played one game since 2019 due to the FCS not having a season in 2020. 

“You know what, that’s pretty cool,” sophomore Keane Murphy said. 

The mixed reactions bubbled through the group of predominantly 49ers fans, but the decision was made. 

After a few days to reflect, Menlo JV Football QB Jake Bianchi explained his views on the decision. “I would’ve taken [Justin] Fields, but I am fine with [Trey Lance],” Bianchi said. 

Menlo Varsity QB Sergio Beltran described Lance’s fit in San Francisco’s Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. “I think Trey Lance is a solid pick, especially since he fits very well into Shanahan’s scheme, but I would have liked to see Justin Fields instead since he’s faced tougher competition in college and has very similar athleticism compared to Lance,” Beltran said.

Lance comes from North Dakota State University, which competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). This subdivision faces lower levels of talent and competition compared to schools in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) that former Ohio State QB, Justin Fields competed in. 

NFL analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and The Ringer’s Danny Kelly predicted the 49ers selecting Alabama QB Jones. “Even though I’ve got both Justin Fields and Trey Lance ranked higher on my board, it’s tough to ignore the overwhelming number of reports linking San Francisco to Jones,” Kelly said in an article from NBC Bay Area.

Many Menlo fans had a less-than-favorable opinion of Jones. “Anyone but Mac [Jones],” said Kossow. Multiple Menlo fans criticized his unathletic build and the Alabama QBs’ weak NFL history. 

The consensus from those interviewed by the Coat of Arms is that Menlo 49ers fans got their second choice for the new face of the franchise, but they are excited about the Trey Lance era. Expect to see some number five jerseys on the quad next fall as Lance tries to become the latest QB to win a super bowl for the 49ers since Steve Young.