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Saban says Shanahan, Lynch didn't ask about Jones at pro day

/ by Dalton Johnson
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Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch had a tough decision to make on March 30. The 49ers coach and general manager had to decide whether to attend Mac Jones' pro day in person at Alabama or watch Justin Fields put on a show at Ohio State.

They chose Jones. 

However, Alabama coach Nick Saban says Shanahan and Lynch didn't speak to him at all about Jones during the pro day. 

"[Shanahan] didn't ask me a thing," Saban said Tuesday morning on the "Dan Patrick Show." "Didn't ask me a thing. I said hi to him, John Lynch too. They did not ask me a thing about him. They didn't ask me a thing."

Saban did make it clear the reasoning might have been because of NFL rules. 

"Maybe they thought they weren't allowed to, because out there on the pro day floor, which is where I saw them, I don't know all their rules but I think the rule is they're not really allowed to talk to me," Saban said. 

Jones has been connected to the 49ers as a prototypical Shanahan QB ever since they traded up to acquire the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Many see Jones in the same mold as Kirk Cousins or Matt Ryan. Look at a handful of mock drafts and Jones is the 49ers' guy with their top pick. 

 

Jones is extremely accurate, completing 77.4 percent of his passes as a junior for 4,500 yards and 41 TDs. He was intercepted just four times. It did certainly help having a plethora of future first-round picks on Alabama's offense. 

"I think a lot of people got interested by the way he played last year. He did a phenomenal job," Saban said. "We had really good players around him, no doubt. A couple of really good receivers, a couple of really good running backs, a really good offensive line. But Mac's really intelligent, really smart, really accurate with the ball, makes good decisions where he throws the ball. That's a really good starting point for a guy being a good quarterback.

"You can go on all these measurables and arm strength and all that, but that doesn't really make you a good quarterback."

Jones doesn't have the same measurables as Fields or Trey Lance. His athleticism is nowhere near those two. The physical traits just aren't there when compared to the top QBs in the draft. 

Perhaps that doesn't matter to Shanahan, though. As Saban said, you can't measure intangibles. 

It was in fall camp that Saban was really impressed by Jones. He wasn't even awarded the starting position coming into the fall as he competed with five-star freshman recruit Bryce Young. But Jones just kept getting better and better. 

RELATED: 2021 NFL Draft: What scouts say about Ohio State's Fields

"He didn't disappoint, at all," Saban said. "He prepared for the games well. He sort of changed his mindset. Early in his career he was sort of an anxious guy, really had a tough time overcoming mistakes in his own mind, playing the next play. He kind of got over that, matured through that.

"He really prepared well for games and he was able to execute exactly what we wanted him to do. I think the world of him."

Maybe the 49ers think the world of him, too. 

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