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Longtime evaluators differ on which QB 49ers will draft

/ by Jennifer Lee Chan
Presented By Big O Tires
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Justin Fields

The 2021 NFL Draft's quarterback class has analysts flipping back and forth on who they believe the 49ers will draft at No. 3 overall come April 29. 

As the future NFL signal-callers go through their second Pro Day workouts, highlights sent through social media are working fans into a frenzy.

Analysts outside of team headquarters are making varied predictions, with no one having a true idea of what coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are thinking.

On a conference call with national media Monday, Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt and longtime general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark Dominik shared their thoughts on what they believe Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance bring to the game. 

“When I take a look at all them I think they all have traits,” Dominik said. “I think Mac Jones is more accurate than both those other quarterbacks. I think that’s a big part of why he is kind of the lead [with the 49ers]. 

“I think [Jones] brings the processing. You already excel in playing at a high level. I think a lot of people beat up Mac Jones because of who he played with. Justin Fields played with a lot of good players too.”  

Less than a month ago, Brandt, who was part of two Super Bowls (VI, XII) with the Dallas Cowboys, believed that there was no possibility the 49ers moved up in the draft for Fields. Now, after the Buckeyes star's second throwing session, the longtime personnel man believes Fields will be heading to Santa Clara. 

 

“I think Justin Fields is going to be an excellent quarterback,” Brandt said. “I don’t know why he’s all over the board. Some people think he is the second or third player picked. Some people think he’s the 10th player picked. 

“I think he will surprise everybody and I really think that that’s the quarterback that San Francisco will take with the third overall pick.” 

Dominik believes Shanahan prioritizing the ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage and get the ball out quickly will influence the 49ers to take Jones. While the Crimson Tide quarterback might not be as shifty as Lance or Fields, the former GM says he is no slouch. 

“We’re now acting like quarterbacks that run 4.7 plus are bad athletes,” Dominik said. “He’s not a bad athlete, he’s just not as fast. Don’t get that confused for a guy that can’t fit into Kyle Shanahan’s system. 

“You know very well that Shanahan likes to move around the pocket and throw on the fly. The number one thing that Shanahan loves is a guy that can process multiple reads, get out in space and be able to get rid of the ball, getting the crossing patterns, play action. When you take that deep shot it’s got to be a good ball.”  

While accuracy clearly is a need for whoever is under center, Dominik believes that Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen has proven that precision can develop over time more than previously believed. Dominik believes Lance is the least accurate of the three but has a lot of potential for success. 

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His comp for Lance is Ben Roethlisberger who is incredibly difficult to tackle and can keep plays alive simply because of his sheer size and strength. 

“I think the key to being a really good quarterback, a special quarterback, is having work habits like Peyton Manning had,” Brandt said. “If you have work habits, you have a chance. If you don't, you're in trouble. 

“And the second thing is if you can read defenses. It's an art. Some people can read defenses really well, others throw into coverages all the time and both have been coached the same way.” 

While the 49ers have wrapped up their pre-draft quarterback visits, their evaluation process will continue. The rest of us will know how their process shakes out April 29. 

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