Fans might be miffed if the 49ers' choice at No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft is Mac Jones, but it very well be the best scenario for Jimmy Garoppolo’s success.
If the veteran signal-caller remains on the 49ers' roster heading into Week 1 of the 2021 season, which is the current plan according to both general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan, all parties would benefit.
Of the top five quarterbacks available in the draft, the Alabama QB puts the least amount of pressure on Garoppolo’s shoulders in 2021.
Often when a quarterback’s successor is drafted early on Day 1 of the draft, impatient fans, media and even staff are known to clamor to see what the rookie is capable of as if the player was a present from Santa on Christmas morning. At the first sign of struggle by the incumbent, calls for a change can echo throughout stadium stands.
If the first two selections unfold on Thursday as widely predicted with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence heading to Jacksonville and the New York Jets selecting BYU’s Zach Wilson, the top three quarterbacks available to the 49ers at No. 3 along with Jones are Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
49ers fans on social media have been at a fever pitch wanting to see either Lance or Fields heading to Santa Clara. Jones is the least popular choice by far, which could be a benefit for Garoppolo.
Without as much hype or support from the fans, it is less likely that those present at games or active on social media will be calling for the Jones to replace Garoppolo under center if he happens to make a bad throw, or even have a tough game.
While all professional athletes attempt to block out the noise during game action, it is impossible to not hear an entire stadium’s jeers and cheers.
Could Lance or Fields be what Patrick Mahomes has been for the Kansas City Chiefs? Could Lance end up having as much durability as Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlissberger? Could Fields be as dynamic as Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson?
RELATED: NFL draft QB rankings
Jones is a still a top prospect, enough so that Shanahan has repeatedly mentioned that he is one of the five players that the club would be confident drafting as their next franchise quarterback.
Best case scenario for the 49ers and Garoppolo would be to keep him under center and play well enough to continue deep into the playoffs. The demand for a Garoppolo trade would increase, and the club could recoup some of the draft capital that it sent to the Miami Dolphins to move up nine spots in the draft.
Not only would it be a better environment for Garoppolo, but the Crimson Tide rookie also would be allowed time to adjust to the speed of the NFL and learn the 49ers' extensive playbook. The likelihood of a player's success, especially at quarterback, tends to rise as they have more time to adjust.
But until Thursday night, we will all just be guessing.