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Fields puts on show at pro day as 49ers get glimpse of future

/ by Josh Schrock
Presented By Big O Tires
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Justin Fields

It's the most wonderful time of the year. The time when future NFL stars go out in shorts and T-shirts to show their future bosses that they can, in fact, dominate against air.

That's right, it's pro-day season.

With Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, fresh off a blockbuster trade to move the 49ers up to No. 3 in the draft, watching Mac Jones throw at Alabama's second pro day, Ohio State's Justin Fields put on a show at his own pro day in Columbus.

Fields ran a 4.4 40-yard dash time, the fastest by a quarterback since Robert Griffin III in 2012. Anyone who has watched Fields knows about his elite athleticism, but he also put on a show with his arm, including this impressive dime.

Fields undoubtedly saw social media going crazy after BYU's Zach Wilson made a similar throw at his pro day Friday, and made sure to show those in attendance that he also possesses top-level arm talent.

While Shanahan and Lynch elected to watch Jones throw instead of Fields, the 49ers' brass told reporters Monday that they would get a chance to see Fields throw in person.

Fields entered the college football season as the no-doubt second-best quarterback in the class behind Trevor Lawrence. Despite putting up impressive numbers while piloting the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Fields has slipped behind BYU's Zach Wilson as scouts and analysts have concerns about his decision-making quickness and ability to work through his progressions.

 

But Fields doesn't see that as a weakness in his game.

“We have some of the best receivers in the country, so if my first or second read is there, I’m not going to pass up that first or second read to get to third, fourth, fifth read to prove I can read past my first or second read,” Fields said after his pro day.

Fields clearly is a victim of over-analysis, much in the same way Oregon's Justin Herbert was a year ago. His high-NFL ceiling has been apparent for some time and that has led scouts and analysts to dissect every part of his game, leading to some unnecessary questions about his ability to play quarterback. That over-analysis has led to some takes about Fields' NFL draft standing, including an anonymous executive claiming he had a Round 4 grade on Fields.

You didn't really need to tune into Fields' pro day to learn that he's got an electric arm and elite athleticism. Turn on almost any tape from the past two seasons and his talent jumps off the screen. Arm talent? Check. Mobility? Yup. Play-making ability? He's got that as well.

Fields also was incredibly lethal in the play-action game which should pique the 49ers' interest. Last season, Fields went 57 of 77 on play-action passes for 907 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception. Given the nature of Shanahan's offense, Fields' ability to thrive in the play-action game is something to note as the 49ers evaluate their options at No. 3.

Fields did struggle against pressure last season, going 20 of 48 for 279 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions while under duress. He struggled against Northwestern, going 12-of-27 passing for 114 yards with two interceptions, but turned around and lit up Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, tossing as many touchdowns (six) as he had incompletions.

RELATED: Jones, Shanahan offer glimpse into why they could be ideal pairing

If it wasn't already, it should be clear that Fields is in the QB2 conversation alongside Wilson with the draft a month out.

The 49ers made the move up to No. 3 in order to control their own destiny. They know Trevor Lawrence is going No. 1, and expect one of the next four quarterbacks to go second to the New York Jets.

Shanahan said Monday that the 49ers see at least three top-level quarterbacks out of the five first-round prospects, and that's why the blockbuster trade was made.

"We couldn't make that decision before there was three guys," Shanahan said. "So we had to feel that way with three. Now I think there's a chance to get there with four and five; there's a chance. There's five guys who are kind of at this party a little bit, and people are talking about them going everywhere. They are all over in the first round."

Shanahan and Lynch plan to see Fields throw in person, and the young quarterback said he has no problem putting on another show for Lynch and Shanahan.

 

"It really doesn’t just happen one time,” Fields told NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala after his pro day. “I want to show I do the same thing every day.”

If the 49ers' decision truly is between Mac Jones and Justin Fields, the Ohio State star might have taken the lead Tuesday. But we have a long way to go.

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