Just as everyone is trying to get off the "Mac Jones to the 49ers" bus, ESPN's Chris Mortensen pulls them right back on.
When the 49ers made the trade to acquire the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones was initially thought to be the target of coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. That opinion has oscillated over the past month as Shanahan and Lynch have watched Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance throw at their respective pro days.
But with the draft nearing, Mortensen went on television Thursday and reported that, as of right now, he's hearing Jones has a great chance to indeed be the pick at No. 3.
"What I'm hearing is it's Mac Jones and it's in the 90th percentile in terms of likely to be picked," Mortensen said. "When they made that trade from 12 to three, that was the pick. But there was a 10 percent margin, and I'm trying to sort out who has the edge with Trey Lance and Justin Fields, and I was told it's probably Trey Lance over Justin Fields. But this Mac Jones, you'd have to put your money down -- I know Vegas says differently -- that it will be Mac Jones."
The 49ers have played the entire process incredibly close to the vest, so the Mac Jones rumors still could be part of the pre-draft smokescreen process.
However, there is a good chance that Jones is indeed the selection.
I have long been a believer in Jones' NFL potential, and while I personally would grab Justin Fields at No. 3 and not look back, I do believe Jones' ability to throw the ball with timing, anticipation and accuracy will mesh well with Shanahan's scheme. In order for Jones to be a successful NFL signal-caller, he will need protection, playmakers and play-calling around him. The 49ers, of course, would check all three of those boxes.
Jones has been blowing teams away in the pre-draft process with his high football IQ and recall ability. When listening to both Jones and Shanahan talk about the QB position in March, it was clear to see why the two could be the ideal coach/QB pair.
The 49ers believe they have a roster that's built to win a Super Bowl this season and for years to come. They wanted to upgrade the quarterback position in order to give them the best chance to win multiple Super Bowls. They want a quarterback who is an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo but also won't need to spend too much time holding a clipboard before taking over under center.
It's beginning to feel like Jones is the prospect Shanahan believes has the best chance to take his offensive system, which is the envy of the NFL, and elevate it to the next level. Time will tell if that's the right decision.