Why Jones advocates think 49ers target can thrive in NFL

Alabama's Mac Jones

With fewer than three weeks until the 2021 NFL Draft, an emerging consensus has identified Alabama quarterback as the 49ers' pick at No. 3 overall.

Jones is the odds-on betting favorite. Jones is the 49ers' pick in many mock drafts. NBC Sports' Chris Simms, Peter King and ESPN's Adam Schefter all think Jones is the pick. NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco does, too.

So, after one season as a starter, what's behind Jones' apparent climb up draft boards

“His footwork is perfect, his decision-making is excellent, and even though he doesn’t have the strongest arm, it’s crazy how many deep balls he threw at Alabama that were right on the money," a coach studying quarterbacks told King for his Football Morning In America column.

Jones completed an NCAA-record 77.4 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He had plenty of weapons around him, including Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver Devonta Smith, likely first-round receiver Jaylen Waddle and likely first-round running back Najee Harris.

But Jones made the most of his situation, completing a higher percentage of his passes and throwing for more yards in a season than either Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa did at Tuscaloosa. King's source isn't the only one who thinks Jones is pro-ready, either, with many treating the 49ers selecting Jones as a foregone conclusion.

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The 49ers will attend Ohio State QB Justin Fields' second pro day this week, and North Dakota State signal-caller Trey Lance's second next week. Jones' pro day was the first the 49ers attended after trading up to No. 3, so it will be interesting to see if Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch's attendance will change narratives between now and April 29.

In the meantime, Jones appears to be the 49ers' choice. The assessment of King's source is a ringing endorsement of going in that direction.

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