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Shanahan calls it 'irresponsible' to let public influence 49ers' pick

/ by Matt Maiocco
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The 49ers' selection with the No. 3 overall draft pick will be met with enthusiasm from some corners of the team's fan base.

There also is a likelihood that it will not be favorably received by another segment of paying customers -- a rather large segment.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan pledged Monday to not allow outside opinions and the perceived popularity factor to enter into the team's thought process.

"I can promise people that you have two people who make sure we don’t get involved in that because it is so irresponsible to let something like that affect your decision," Shanahan said during a pre-draft video call with reporters. "We do this for a living, and I think people should be proud of us that we won’t let that affect our decision. And then it’s up to us to live with the consequences."

The 49ers have five quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft that they like and could envision taking with their first-round selection, Shanahan said. They likely will choose among Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Mac Jones and North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are expected to be the top two picks in the draft. After the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets make their picks Thursday night, the 49ers will go on the clock to select their quarterback of the future.

 

Based on social media, Jones does not appear to be the popular choice among 49ers fans. However, many in the media believe there is a strong chance Jones ultimately will be the team's selection.

Lynch lauded the 49ers' personnel department thorough player evaluations throughout the process. Scouts attended 176 games and practices. Scouts and coaches interviewed nearly 600 players by phone, Zoom or in person. The 49ers attended 128 separate pro days.

"It’s been an incredibly thorough process, but ultimately someone’s got to be charged with making a decision, and in this case, it’s the both of us," Lynch said.

Lynch has contractual power over the 49ers' draft and free agency. But he said he works in tandem with Shanahan throughout the process, and both hold a measure of veto power.

He also made it clear Shanahan will get the quarterback he prefers.

"I told Kyle from the beginning, he and I are doing this together," Lynch said. "And when it comes to quarterbacks, I’d be foolish ...

"We have a head coach who is also our offensive play-caller. I will always defer to him. And what’s cool about that is Kyle I think respects my opinion enough that he always wants it."

Shanahan said he is proud the 49ers took the initiative to move up from No. 12 overall and not just wait to select the best remaining quarterback on their board.

"We made a decision in this process that we felt we needed to get a starting quarterback this year and add that to our team," Shanahan said.

The 49ers traded up to No. 3 in a March 26 deal with the Miami Dolphins to find the heir apparent for Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers traded two future first-round picks and a 2022 third-round selection.

The new quarterback already will have pressure on him. But Shanahan did not sound concerned that -- if Jones is the selection -- he would face unfair scrutiny from the fan base.

In a recent poll, Fields was the overwhelming choice among 49ers fans with two-thirds of the vote. Lance was second at around a quarter of the vote, while Jones trailed at a distant third.

"It does put pressure on people, but there’s no more pressure on any position in sports than an NFL quarterback," Shanahan said. "So whether you get it right away or later, it’s coming. I’d love to make everybody happy. But I’ve been in this league long enough that you do have to block everything out. You can’t make decisions based off that."

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Said Lynch: "Come Thursday, we’ll have a pick that hopefully makes everybody proud, but that be judged in years to come. And we’ve done our best to make sure it’s a smart decision for our franchise."

Regardless of which quarterback is selected, the only thing that ultimately matters is the 49ers' win-loss record in future seasons.

 

"I hope the fans are happy with it," Shanahan said. "But, the key is, ultimately, they’re going to be happy based on what we do in the future, not how they feel that night and whether they won arguments with their friends or things like that."

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