With less than three weeks to go until the 2021 NFL Draft, the spotlight remains on the San Francisco 49ers. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan made the most significant move of the offseason when they traded up to acquire the No. 3 pick from the Miami Dolphins.
Lynch and Shanahan have made it no secret that they made the deal to draft their quarterback of the future. The Niners still have Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster, and it looks he will have every opportunity to win the starting job leading up to Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Alabama’s Mac Jones is getting the most buzz as San Francisco’s potential selection. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was on Matt Maiocco’s podcast and shared who he thinks the 49ers will choose with the third selection (h/t 49ers Web Zone).
“Now, if you’re asking me today who I would guess, I would guess Mac Jones today,” Schefter said. “But we’re also three weeks away from the draft. There’s going to be a lot of meetings. There’s going to be a lot of discussions. They’re going to be attending workouts.
“So what happens between now and then? I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll find out what enters their thought process, what gets brought up in the discussion, and what factors push them ultimately to the quarterback they decide to take.”
As Schefter points out, there is still a lot of time for the Niners to do their homework on the QB prospects. Ohio State’s Justin Fields will hold a second pro day on Wednesday, while North Dakota State’s Trey Lance will throw in front of NFL teams again on April 19. Lynch and Shanahan will be in attendance at both.
Schefter believes San Francisco is intrigued by all three signal-callers.
“I think they have an open mind right now,” Schefter said. “I think they go into this looking at three quarterbacks who will be there. They’re obviously going to watch Justin Fields go work out again. I think they have a high opinion of Trey Lance, and I think they have a high opinion of Mac Jones. So I think they like all three.”
Jones, Fields and Lance each bring their own unique skillset to the table. The good news is that Shanahan will get to handpick the player he hopes will be the face of the franchise for at least the next decade.
The 49ers felt they needed to strengthen the QB position, given the fact that Garoppolo has missed 23 starts in three seasons. With a Super Bowl-ready roster, Lynch and Shanahan felt like they couldn’t let an injury to Garoppolo torpedo the season.
San Francisco is in a great spot going into the 2021 NFL Draft. The front office made a ton of shrewd moves to re-sign several key free agents and reworked the cap situation to maintain some flexibility. Garoppolo provides a veteran presence who knows the offense and has shown he can help lead a contending team on a deep postseason run.
The Niners will now — at the least— have a backup Shanahan is confident in, and if whichever rookie is selected outperforms Garoppolo during training camp, Shanahan likely won’t hesitate to start him in Week 1.
Schefter says the 49ers will take their time to study the three prospects, with each of them bringing their own strengths to the table.
“I think that Trey Lance has a big ceiling,” Schefter said. “Justin Fields has a big ceiling. Mac Jones might not have the same ceiling, but again, he offers different attributes. And so, that’s up for them to make that decision and to ultimately decide. But again, I still think they have to come to their final decision, and I think they have three weeks to do that.”
The good news is that we will finally get our answer on April 29.