The 49ers accomplished everything they set out to achieve during the opening days of NFL free agency.
That left the organization in a position where they could look to the future, rather than feeling an urgent need to add a player who would be targeted to become an immediate starter.
So what did the 49ers’ trade to the No. 3 overall pick signal about the mindset of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan?
"That they’re drafting Mac Jones," former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum said on the latest episode of "49ers Talk," "and they see Mac Jones like Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Garoppolo.
"They got a young guy who’s really smart and accurate with the ball who’s functionally athletic enough. I would be shocked if they don’t draft Mac Jones with the third pick."
Tannenbaum formerly worked as general manager of the New York Jets and executive vice president of football operations with the Miami Dolphins. He currently works as ESPN’s NFL front office insider.
Shanahan has experienced success with Ryan and Garoppolo, both of whom were the starters on Super Bowl teams. Garoppolo has started more than six games only once in his career, and the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl that season.
Schaub was Shanahan’s quarterback for two seasons (2008 and '09) when he was the Houston Texans’ offensive coordinator. Schaub led the NFL with 4,770 yards passing and had a career-best passer rating of 98.6 in 2009.
Jones, Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trey Lance of North Dakota State are the most likely options for the No. 3 pick with Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson expected to be the first to picks of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jets, respectively.
The 49ers swapped the No. 12 pick this year in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers also sent first-round picks in 2022 and ’23, along with a third-round compensatory pick in 2022, to move up to No. 3 overall to select the quarterback who will ultimately replace Garoppolo.
That is a big price to pay. Was it too much future draft capital for the 49ers to give up for a quarterback who could have been available elsewhere in the top 10?
“That could be true,” Tannebaum said, “but if we’re having this conversation in two years or five years, and Mac Jones turns out to be a B-plus or better, and he turns out to be at least Matt Ryan, no one is going to care that they gave up a one instead of a two or a two instead of a three.”
Tannenbaum said the best successes he had in drafts were when there was a conviction to trade up to select such players as cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Xavien Howard, and linebacker David Harris.
“Their character and talent, we were able to check those boxes before we made those decisions,” Tannenbaum said. “And I think with Mac Jones, specifically, they feel like he checks a lot of their boxes.
“So they gave up an extraordinarily huge amount of draft capital and maybe he would’ve been there at five or six, but you’re literally throwing up in the draft room if you trade to six, and Mac Jones goes at five."