The Trey Lance vs. Mac Jones vs. Justin Fields debate isn't going to go away just because the 2021 NFL Draft is over.
From now until the day they hang it up, the five quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft will be compared to each other.
The debate heading into the draft was that while Lance and Fields had tools that Jones doesn't possess, the Alabama quarterback was more NFL-ready than his contemporaries.
But the 49ers didn't feel that way, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"They believe that Trey Lance is closer to playing this season than Mac Jones was," Schefter told Josh Norris on the Underdogapalooza Fantasy Football Live Stream. "A lot of people thought, 'Woah, Mac Jones is smart, he's ready to play right away.' Actually, the 49ers believe Trey Lance is ahead of where Mac Jones is and that he is more ready to play. People have these certain perceptions, and the Niners felt that Trey Lance was the smartest quarterback in this draft and the most ready to play right away."
After the 49ers selected Lance with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday night, coach Kyle Shanahan said that Lance had been the quarterback the 49ers had loved from "Day 1," and that while he wouldn't say Jones wasn't in the conversation, Lance was always who the 49ers had targeted.
To Schefter, who was among the many insiders who reported the 49ers made the trade up for Jones, he believes the 49ers were wooed by Lance in the final days.
"I've said this, and nobody is going to tell me any different," Schefter told Norris. "I believe they traded up with the idea that they were comfortable taking Mac Jones in that slot, and that they were going to do all the due diligence they could on Trey Lance and Justin Fields. The more they did on Trey Lance, the more they fell in love with him.
"The analogy I've used and you'll hear it on my podcast today, is they were planning to propose to a woman and they just happened to meet another woman that they decided to run off with."
After the 49ers drafted Lance, Jones and Fields slid out of the top 10, with the Chicago Bears eventually trading up for Fields and the New England Patriots selecting Jones at No. 15.
The 49ers' plan, at the moment, is to start Jimmy Garoppolo this season and give Lance the runway to develop his game and take over in 2022. But if Lance is as NFL-ready as the 49ers apparently believe, he might be ready for the spotlight at some point this fall.