The Athletic’s Matt Barrows had an insightful interview below that featured John Beck — who currently trains Justin Fields and Trey Lance — about daily phone calls between Kyle Shanahan and his former QB turned quarterback guru.
“Knowing that I’ve been around (Fields) the last three months, he’ll reach out and just want to ask questions or talk,” Beck said Tuesday in a phone interview from his facility in Huntington Beach. “And kind of like prod into: What are the things we’re working on, the things that I think having played in his system, having been coached by him, I know how he’s going to coach quarterbacks. I know what he’s looking for. So I think it’s an easy extension of Kyle in terms of the eyes I have for quarterbacks.”
“It’s along the lines of, ‘Hey, I know when he did some of these throws, some of the (play) action was to one side. Can you show me those actions to the other?’” Beck said. “It’s simple stuff like that. That way Kyle can get a balanced look.”
OK, yeah, about Garoppolo. A lot of the NFL people I talk to assume that Garoppolo can’t really be the 49ers’ planned 2021 starter. They believe this is the true smokescreen, that Shanahan and Lynch can’t be comfortable handing back the starting spot and paying out $24.1 million to somebody they’ve given up three first-round picks to replace.
If the 49ers are done with Garoppolo, they need the No. 1 pick to start Week 1 of this season. Which is another direct connection to Jones, widely believed to be far more NFL-ready than Fields or Lance (or presumably BYU’s Zach Wilson, projected to go No. 2 to the Jets). I’m not all the way certain Jones’ transition will be as seamless as many people are presuming, since he was only a one-year starter at Alabama and QBs who started for multiple years with the Crimson Tide before him — Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa — didn’t exactly take over the NFL as rookies. But I understand the thinking. If the 49ers need a new starter right away, it would point the pick to Jones over all others likely available at 3.
- With Trevor Lawrence almost certainly Jacksonville-bound and Zach Wilson on track to join the Jets, the 49ers’ QB preference has emerged as perhaps the draft’s top talking point. Few in the team’s building know which passer Shanahan prefers. He and John Lynch have only told “a couple” of people the quarterback they are targeting, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (video link). It will come down to Fields, Lance and Jones. Thus far, Jones may have a slight lead. While Shanahan and Lynch showed rare transparency following their trade up to No. 3, their secrecy within the building will continue to generate interest as to which QB Shanahan wants. Lynch and Shanahan opting to attend Jones’ pro day over Fields’ may have served as an early tell, but the 49ers are attending Fields and Lance’s second showcases.
“Oh, it’ll be Mac Jones,” Schefter said with zero hesitation during an April 6 ESPN radio appearance. He added a teeny tiny qualifier about the Niners assessing the other quarterback prospects, before adding, ”I believe that in the end they will take Mac Jones at three. That’ll be the pick.”
And then, like clockwork, Schefter walked back his declarative statement. From April 12, six days later.
You can read that a few different ways, none of which reflect very well on Schefter. The most generous interpretation is he got more intel from the organization and now genuinely thinks they haven’t made up their minds yet. The problem is he didn’t provide any of that background outright. He didn’t say, “I want to clarify that following conversations with front-office members, the 49ers aren’t locked into Jones and I was off-base.” Of course, would such a disclosure truly matter? Not really. The 49ers front office has no reason to be honest with Schefter, and Schefter isn’t all that concerned with untangling the rumors he’s being fed with an appropriate amount of nuance and skepticism.
Shanahan is known to be tough with players during the interviews. He will show bad plays. And he will want to know what happened. He will want the player to explain in precise detail what the play called for, what he saw and why he made the play he did.
He does not want to hear excuses, either, such as from a high-profile player in a recent draft class who blamed a decidedly negative play on his college coaches.
Shanahan will dig and dig until he gets a good feel for how a player is apt to handle tough coaching. And, then, he will move on to the next play and the next for more interrogations.