With one week until the 2021 NFL Draft, everyone still is waiting on pins and needles to get a whiff of what the 49ers are planning on doing with the No. 3 pick.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones has been seen as the favorite ever since the 49ers made the trade to acquire the pick. While that might not sit well with The Faithful, I ran down some reasons why Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch could view Jones as their best option. While I don't agree with the idea that Jones is the safest option, it's clear many in NFL circles view the Crimson Tide star as the surest thing of the group of quarterbacks after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
However, one NFL exec is in lockstep with those who believe there's no way the 49ers surrendered that much draft capital for Jones, and he has a good reason to believe Shanahan and Lynch aren't looking in that direction.
"I don’t think there’s any way in hell they’re taking Mac Jones,” one executive told The MMQB's Albert Breer.
“He’s not good enough. The Shanahan offense has worked with a multitude of types of quarterbacks,” the exec told Breer. “But it really flourished when it had a big athlete with a big arm like John Elway running it. I just think you’re moving up for the special athlete.”
That's sound logic. The prevailing thought from some has been that because Shanahan has run his offense with Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo, that he preferred a more traditional pocket passer to run his offense.
However, as I've detailed in a number of columns, what Shanahan has actually said he is looking for is an elite thrower. Whether that passer is mobile or not is of little consequence, but the search for one of the rare top-level arms in the world is what has driven this move.
For all his smarts and precision, Jones' arm talent is above average but not elite. He doesn't have the power and accuracy of Justin Fields or the tantalizing potential of Trey Lance. Jones throws with great timing and anticipation and trusts his ability to pull the trigger when the framework of the plays asks him to, but the ball doesn't sound or look the same coming out of his hand as it does Fields or Lance.
Couple that with Fields and Lance's ability to get outside the pocket and make second reaction throws with upper-echelon arm talent, and it's clear that both of those prospects fit the mold the unnamed exec is speaking of.
But there is a reason Jones is a part of the conversation. He's very much in the mix to go at No. 3 overall after completing 77.4 percent of his passes while leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship.
Shanahan has the utmost faith in his system and believes that with a quarterback who has the ability to put the ball on the mark precisely when he wants it to be there, the offense will be difficult to stop. Shanahan's frustrations with Garoppolo stem from Garoppolo's penchant to wait for the receiver to be open before throwing the ball instead of trusting the play design and pulling the trigger when the framework asks.
The athleticism and overall talent of Fields and Lance are greater than Jones, but the Alabama quarterback has the talent to elevate the 49ers' offense above what Garoppolo can give them. The decision will come down to what Shanahan truly prioritizes.