Mac Jones will throw for an important audience Tuesday when 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan are in attendance at the Alabama quarterback's second pro-day session.
On Friday, the 49ers pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which many believe they plan to use to draft Jones. Most experts and scouts see Jones as the fifth-best QB in the draft class, but the Heisman Trophy finalist knows what he's capable of, and isn't shocked that teams are moving up with potentially him in mind.
"It takes one team to kind of fall in love with a guy," Jones told reporters Monday during his pro-day media availability. "And hopefully I can do that. Whatever team wants to do that, that would be awesome. But at the end of the day, I'm not surprised that there are some teams that are going to be trading up, and I think the 49ers would be awesome to play for. But at the end of the day, I can't look at it too much and let it be a distraction. They are going to pick who they are going to pick, and I'm just going to go in and work like I did for four years at Alabama. Hopefully it works out in the long run.
"I'm not really surprised. You just work for it and hopefully people see it," Jones continued. "I know for a fact that the teams in meeting with me have been impressed with my football IQ, and they watched the tape and see that I have some of the best tape. So, yeah, I think it's more of a media thing that people will knock me a little bit, but it is what it is."
With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson expected to be the first two players off the board in next month's NFL draft, the 49ers should have their pick between Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields at No. 3.
Jones is an accurate, cerebral quarterback who is a quick processor with good pocket mobility, a strong feel for pressure and a pretty deep ball. His lack of elite athleticism has many labeling him as a dinosaur, but his ability to run through his progressions and make accurate throws into tight windows has others believing he can be the next great pocket passer.
The Alabama star put up impressive numbers while piloting the Crimson Tide to a national championship, throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with just four interceptions while completing 77.4 of his passes. Jones also was excellent when being pressured, going 56-of-88 passing for 976 yards, 556 air yards and 13 touchdowns with two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 131.4 when facing under duress, per Sports Info Solutions.
In order for Jones to succeed in the NFL, he'll need to be surrounded by playmakers, protection and a good play-caller. The 49ers check all those boxes, so it could be the perfect match.
The 49ers have a big decision to make at No. 3 overall. Many believe that trading three first-round picks to go up and draft Jones would be a huge mistake, as he likely would be available in the No. 8-to-No. 12 range in the draft.
But NFL teams often have a better grip on how a prospect is valued across the league than mock draft experts do. If the 49ers believe Jones is the right guy to run their offense and that a number of other teams are high on him, then they made the right move in going up to be able to secure him.
If Jones is the 49ers' choice, the selection will be heavily scrutinized. But a number of QB selections have been scrutinized in recent seasons and turned out to be home runs (e.g. Josh Allen and Justin Herbert).
This is a decision that will define Lynch and Shanahan's tenure with the 49ers. They have to be sure they get it right.