Winning a Super Bowl always is the goal, but creating a dynasty is the ultimate brass ring.
With all signs pointing to the 49ers selecting Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Niners are attempting to set themselves up for success. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the Alabama quarterback will be thrive under Kyle Shanahan, but sees other options as having more long-term potential.
During a call with national media Wednesday, Jeremiah broke down the potential of Shanahan’s offense with Jones as a positive, but sees North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields as having an even brighter future.
Jeremiah has Jones mocked to the 49ers at No. 3 but lists the Crimson Tide signal caller at No. 32 in his list of the top 50 prospects. The longtime evaluator has Lance (No. 7) and Fields (No. 8) ranked much higher.
“If you take Mac Jones with the Niners, and we agree he’s going to be a fit and is going to play well there, I don’t know how you can’t make the case that you have the fourth-best quarterback in the that division,” Jeremiah said. “And it’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future.
“Whoever the 49ers pick, is he going to be successful? Yes. Kyle is so good, the roster is so good, they are going to plug him in and they are going to be good but I just look at it and say, ‘Man, Trey Lance or Justin Fields could do what we saw when Aaron Rodgers was plugged into that system.’ "
Looking at what Shanahan was able to do with C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, there is no doubt that he has the ability to set his offense up for success. If the 49ers had simply done a better job taking care of the ball in 2020, they have made an appearance in the post season.
Mullens threw 12 interceptions and committed six fumbles in his 10 appearances in 2020, while Jimmy Garoppolo threw five interceptions and fumbled twice in his six starts. Beathard didn’t throw a pick but did fumble three times over his six appearances. The 49ers' three quarterbacks accounted for 28 of the team's 37 turnovers, or nearly 75.7 percent.
In 2020, the 49ers lost five games by one score (eight points or less) and another three games by two scores (14 points or less). Simply decreasing the number of turnovers by each quarterback obviously would have made a huge impact on the team's final outcome.
Is Shanahan’s belief in his own system influencing the 49ers' choice at No. 3?
“If you talk to some people around the league, they would say if [the 49ers] take Mac Jones, that’s an arrogant decision,” Jeremiah said. “That’s believing so much in your system. I’ve used the line ‘It’s about the Jimmys and Joes not the Xs and Os.’ This is an Xs and Os decision. It is ‘I believe so much in the Xs and Os, I need someone that can see the game through my eyes and make those decisions.’
“I don’t call it arrogance because I don’t know how you argue with him. You watch the tape every week and Kyle gets guys more open than anyone else in the league and there’s a reason why so many teams are picking off all the guys in his tree to run that offense, because it’s the best offense there is.”
Jeremiah believes NFC division rival Los Angeles Rams, with Matthew Stafford now under center, will thrive akin to the Kansas City Chiefs' combination of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. While Lance and Fields might take more time to develop in the NFL than Jones, who has been called the most NFL ready of the three, the NFL Network analyst believes their issues are correctable.
If the 49ers can take their time to develop either Lance or Fields while keeping Garoppolo leading the offense in the immediate future, Jeremiah sees the potential success for many seasons to come.
“An elite play-caller and a good quarterback, you can win a Super Bowl,” Jeremiah said. “An elite play-caller and an elite quarterback, you can become a dynasty, that’s why I would lean in the other direction.”