Draft season has started early for the 49ers. With more than three months to go, the attention has shifted from the present to the future in Santa Clara.
What will the 49ers do with the No. 12 pick in the draft come April 29? Quarterback remains the most important position on the field, and there might not have been anyone to line up behind the center in college better than BYU's Zach Wilson this season. Wilson is expected to be a top pick in the coming months, and he already believes he'd thrive for a certain team.
"One just off the top of my head is the 49ers, just because I'm very familiar with what coach Kyle Shanahan does and the system they have in place," Wilson said on BYU TV when asked which team which scheme he'd best fit into. "I think I'd fit in well there."
Wilson finished his junior with the Cougars completing 73.4 percent of his passes for 3,699 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions. The electric QB even added 10 rushing touchdowns. He ended his college career about as best he could, throwing for a career-high 425 yards and five total TDs -- three passing and two rushing -- in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Following that prolific performance, Wilson finished his final year in college with a 94.9 Pro Football Focus grade. That just so happens to be the same as Joe Burrow last year, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Wilson certainly didn't play the same competition as Burrow, but he also wasn't surrounded with future first-round picks on offense.
The 49ers sent scouts to watch Wilson earlier in the season, and they had to have liked what they saw. It's hard not to. If they do believe Wilson could be the answer to propel San Francisco next season and beyond, however, it would cost a pretty penny to move up in the draft and grab Wilson. Our own Josh Schrock has Wilson going to the New York Jets with the No. 2 pick in his latest mock draft.
Oh, and then there's Jimmy Garoppolo.
Shanahan has said he "expects" Garoppolo to be the 49ers' starting quarterback next season. General manager John Lynch even said "Jimmy is our quarterback." But Garoppolo is scheduled to count $26.9 million against next year’s salary cap, including $25.5 million in salary and bonuses. Having a quarterback on a rookie contract could be a smarter move, and help keep stars within the building at Levi's Stadium.
It won't be easy to go get Wilson in the draft, and it's far from a conclusion the 49ers will even take a QB. At the same time, it's no coincidence Wilson named Shanahan and the 49ers as a system he could thrive in. Any quarterback would love to play for Shanahan -- especially with all the 49ers' weapons -- and that includes top prospects in the upcoming draft.