Bluffed or not, Ryan Pace couldn’t afford to lose Mitch Trubisky
The Bears’ decision to trade up to the second overall pick in the NFL draft to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky is so many things.
It’s bold and a bit crazy.
It’s risky, but also premeditated.
It’s expensive, but possibly worth it.
There is serious skepticism in league circles that the San Francisco 49ers had any other serious offers for their No. 2 pick. One source plugged into the 49ers told the Sun-Times that what the Bears gave up Thursday night — swapped first-round picks, the 67th and 111th picks this year and a 2018 third-round selection — was “baffling.”
In the end, the price will mean little. It won’t matter what 49ers general manager John Lynch sold Bears GM Ryan Pace in their final conversations. Moving up to take Trubisky was a statement — an emphatic one made on national television that says plenty about what is truly taking shape in Lake Forest.
Let’s start by saying this is Pace’s team. Regardless of the 49ers’ sell, Pace acted with conviction, moving up and drafting a quarterback he deeply believes in. If Trubisky is a bust, then so is Pace. If he’s a star, Pace is one, too. They’ll define each other because that’s what GMs and quarterbacks — especially ones selected with the second overall pick — do.
“If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” Pace said. “There’s times when you’ve got to be aggressive. I just don’t want to be average around here. I want to be great. And these are the moves you have to make.”
Pace said he felt there was competition for the 49ers’ pick because teams were calling him about the Bears’ No. 3 pick.
“You always feel like there’s competition,” he said. “It’s like in free agency when the agent tells you he’s got three other teams he’s working with. You never really know. You’ve just got to trust your conviction on it, and if you want a player, you aggressively go get him.”
Pace doesn’t have any second thoughts — and that’s even if the 49ers were bluffing.
“The alternative is maybe you called the bluff and you miss out on a player,” he said. “In this case, I wasn’t willing to take that risk.”
Nothing can change the outlook of a team, especially in the long term, like a quarterback can. From Trubisky’s accuracy to his decision-making to how he handles pressure to his off-the-field intangibles and smarts, Pace believes in everything he offers.
And he wasn’t scared off by Trubisky’s one year of staring experience at North Carolina.
“Watching every single one of his snaps throughout his career, even when he would get in in 2015, every time he got in the game, he made a play,” Pace said. “Every time he got in the game, something happened in a positive way.”
Trubisky, who comes from a shotgun-based offense, will be given time to learn and develop. Pace said there is no timeline for that development — he won’t be rushed.
“We’ve created the perfect environment for Mitch to develop,” Pace said. “We’ve got to be smart with that.”
The Bears, after all, have $16 million reasons to give Mike Glennon his chance, at least for this season, as awkward as it might seem right now.
“There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here,” Pace said. “Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears.”
But Glennon has officially become a “bridge” quarterback. Trubisky is a career-defining pick for Pace. The Bears are Trubisky’s team. He’s their future, not Glennon.
Trubisky’s arrival shifts everything, from outside perception to internal philosophy.
“I hope everybody’s excited about it,” Pace said. “The most important position in all of sports is quarterback, and I don’t think you’re ever a great team until you address the position, and you address it right. I think everybody should respect that.”
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