If nothing else changes for the San Francisco 49ers at the quarterback position, we can expect them to use a draft selection on a QB. Josh Rosen was recently signed to a one-year deal, but Rosen isn’t preventing the Niners from bringing in competition.
As it stands, Rosen and Josh Johnson are Jimmy Garoppolo’s current backups. That all but closes the door for the return of Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard. So, which quarterback in the draft best fits San Francisco?
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: QUARTERBACK
Early-Round Fit: Justin Fields, Ohio State
Later-Round Fit: Jamie Newman, Wake Forest
Call it a hunch, but I think Kyle Shanahan wants some mobility back in his offense. We all saw the magic he worked with RG3 back in the day, and Fields brings even more to the table as a passer. Newman’s biggest issues come working within an offense, but if you can scheme him open receivers, he’ll hit them.
Newman had a chance to impress at the Senior Bowl, and he left a lot to be desired. Newman was often late on his reads during practice, which forced him to be inaccurate. Newman looks great aesthetically, but he has a lot to work on. If I’m taking a later round QB, I will roll the dice on a guy like Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M instead.
Now, as far as Fields, it’s tough not to get excited imagining the Ohio State signal-caller in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The reason it’s easy to believe that Shanahan is high on Sam Darnold is the same that he’d be intrigued by a Trey Lance or Justin Fields: All three excel in the quick-game.
The majority of Fields throws came in the quick-game during 2020. According to NBC Sport’s Derrik Klassen, who charted Fields entire season, nearly 22% of Fields’ targets came between the 6-10 yard area, which was higher than every 2020 QB and six percentage points higher than the average QB in the 2019 draft class.
Klassen had Fields with the highest adjusted accuracy of any draft-eligible quarterback coming out since 2016. That’s...promising. When you watch Fields, you see much of the same. A quarterback who has no issue playing in or outside of the structure of the play. He’s accurate whether he’s rolling out, under pressure, or using play-action.
Fields is a smart QB who knows where to go with the ball. It’s impossible to ignore his toughness after watching him take a beating in the college playoffs and continue to play through pain and injury.
Fields holds onto the ball, and that invites pressure. That’s a fair criticism. Ohio State’s receivers were running option routes, and it was evident that part of the reason Fields had to hold onto the ball as he was waiting for his wideout to make a decision. I’m more impressed with Fields' ability to not flinch in the face of pressure and still deliver an accurate throw.
We know he has a rocket launcher for an arm. Fields is also athletic and can make plays with his legs. Oftentimes you’ll see him make a rusher miss thanks to Ohio State running so many empty formations. I get that it’s easy to be turned off by a Buckeye quarterback based on history, but if there’s a guy who fits the 49ers in this NFL Draft, it’s Fields.