The 49ers have set themselves up to make a franchise-defining decision when they go on the clock with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were in lockstep when making the decision to trade three first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins to move up and control their draft destiny. However, when it comes to which QB they'll choose to be their franchise signal-caller, the two power brokers reportedly have differing opinions on who to draft, according to The Athletic's Michael Lombardi.
"Someone told me yesterday -- not an NFL head coach -- but someone told me that there is a conversation in the building that Kyle wants X and maybe Lynch wants Y," Lombardi said on SiriusXM's "The Rap with Patrick Meagher." "Look, I'm going to be very clear here -- Kyle is going to make this pick. It's in his contract. It's not a question of he's just going to do it by his personality. The Shanahans run the 49ers. Lynch is there to do what he is told to do."
On Tuesday, Shanahan and Lynch traveled to Alabama to watch Mac Jones' second pro day. On the same day, Ohio State's Justin Fields dazzled with his top-level arm talent and elite athleticism at his own pro day. Shanahan and Lynch told reporters Monday that they plan to get an in-person look at Fields at a later date.
The other player in this equation is North Dakota State's Trey Lance. The 49ers were not present at Lance's pro day because they had not yet made the trade with the Dolphins and didn't want to show their hand. I'd expect Lynch and Shanahan to try to get an in-person look at Lance as well with the draft one month away.
The 49ers plan to have Jimmy Garoppolo be their starting quarterback in 2021 before turning the keys over to whichever QB they draft in 2022.
There is a lot of noise about Shanahan preferring Jones at No. 3. However, it's clear Fields and Lance both have more upside, and I'd argue that Fields' arm talent and accuracy, combined with his elite athleticism, make him a safer pick than the low ceiling-high floor Jones.
One thing is clear: The choice will be Shanahan's to make. The 49ers have put their trust in him, and the Shanahan-Lynch era will be defined by who they select at No. 3.