NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Alabama quarterback Mac Jones ranked as his No. 32 draft prospect.
Yet, Jeremiah projects the 49ers using the No. 3 overall pick on Jones — his fifth-ranked quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields.
Jeremiah explained his thinking Wednesday on a national conference call. He said when putting together his big board, he is more inclined to favor players with more upside without regard to how he might fit into a particular system.
“I don’t think Mac Jones fits all 32 teams,” Jeremiah said. “I don’t think he fits all teams that are in the quarterback market.
“But I understand why the 49ers value what he does. Because this is really an opportunity for San Francisco to duplicate what Mac Jones had at Alabama.”
Jeremiah said the combination of a solid offensive line, multiple targets who can win matchups and coach Kyle Shanahan designing the offense allows for an accurate, albeit limited, quarterback, such as Jones, to thrive.
“Every other team does not have those things in place, so they’re not going to value Mac the way Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch might value him,” Jeremiah said. “If he goes to the 49ers, he’s going to play well and he’s going to be a really good player there.
“This is what I think it’s going to happen. It looks like it points toward Mac Jones. But if I was there, even knowing how much they value the things that Mac is good at, I would still take Trey Lance.”
Lance played only one game in 2020 before North Dakota State shut down its fall season to play in the spring. In 2019, Lance threw 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also rushing for 1,100 yards.
“I think Trey is going to eventually get to the point where he can deliver all the things that Mac can deliver, in terms of being able to process very quickly, make great decisions, and you’re going to be able to do more with him, in terms of getting him on the move,” Jeremiah said.
While Lance has already shown to be a highly successful and skilled player, Jeremiah believes his potential is far from being fully unlocked.
“Now, right now, accuracy wise, he trails Mac Jones,” Jeremiah said. “But I think there are some mechanical things you can fix with him, much like we saw with Josh Allen. And I think you can see Trey Lance get to that level.”
Allen, the No. 7 overall pick of the Buffalo Bills in 2018, has greatly improved his accuracy from 52.8 percent as a rookie to 58.8% in 2019 to 69.2% in 2020.
Jeremiah said he believes Lance is capable of something similar, and that is why he would lean toward Lance if he were making the call for the 49ers.
“Thats’s what I would do,” Jeremiah said, “but what I believe they will do is Mac Jones.”