ESPN’s Todd McShay had four quarterbacks go in the first four picks of his latest mock draft. Trevor Lawrence went to Jacksonville. The Jets moved on from Sam Darnold to draft Zach Wilson. The Panthers jumped everyone else in a trade with the Dolphins to select Justin Fields, while the Falcons took Trey Lance at No. 4 to complete the QB run.
In his previous mock, McShay had San Francisco moving down. This time around, the 49ers moved up to No. 9 as John Lynch and his buddy John Elway do business, and the Niners take Alabama QB, Mac Jones:
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Five quarterbacks in the opening nine picks would beat the previous record of five in the first 12 selections (1999). Jones doesn’t have the rushing ability of the other four QBs, but he processes quickly, has excellent ball placement on short-to-intermediate throws and shows the ability to anticipate. He’d mesh nicely with the Niners’ quick game and could bring more balance to an offense that has run on the sixth-highest percentage of plays in the NFL since coach Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017.
Nick Wagoner on his fit with the 49ers: Jones would likely arrive as the understudy to incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo. I expect a setup similar to what the Chiefs did when they had Alex Smith and drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017. The goal would be to allow Jones to learn and develop for at least a season while Garoppolo continues to start and bolsters his value back to a point where the 49ers would have a difficult decision to make after the 2021 season.
San Francisco gave up No. 43 in this year’s draft, and McShay hinted at an additional ‘22 first or second-rounder.
If you’re giving up two first-round picks, you better come away with a superior talent than Mac Jones, who is a fine quarterback and the most accurate thrower in the class but has physical limitations that will lead to more struggles than what showed during his time at Alabama.
If the 49ers trade up for a quarterback, they’re not keeping Jimmy Garoppolo. That doesn’t make sense financially, and based on what we’ve seen in recent years, quarterbacks who get drafted this high play right away. Moving up for a quarterback would signal that Kyle Shanahan feels he could get the same production out of a rookie as he would Jimmy in 2021.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick compared Jones to Garoppolo earlier this week on ESPN, and I don’t see the similarities at all. The two do not play the position the same. Garoppolo is closer to Alex Smith, without the athleticism. Jones is closer to Chad Pennington/Jake Delhomme — a maxed-out QB who you can win with that’s accurate, but when asked to create outside of the structure of the play, he struggles.
A handful of 49ers fans spent Friday discussing Mac Jones on social media and how he’d be a “Shanahan quarterback.” Jones has a lot of “chuck and duck” to him. Jones has enough pocket savvy to make plays when the pocket breaks down. But if Kyle moves on from Jimmy in this draft, it’ll be for a quarterback with more upside, athleticism, and arm talent than Jones.
I’d place my money on Shanahan liking a Zach Wilson out of BYU, who ran similar concepts to what Shanahan does, or Justin Fields from Ohio State, whose talent is closer to Trevor Lawrence than many realize.