Within the next week, the 49ers will have almost all of the information needed to make their decision.
After attending the second pro day for Alabama quarterback Mac Jones two weeks ago, coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are expected to be in attendance Wednesday at Ohio State to watch Justin Fields’ second public throwing session.
Shanahan and Lynch will conclude their quarterback tour next Monday with a showcase of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
The game film shows the 49ers a lot of what they need to know about the players they are considering with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to ultimately replace Jimmy Garoppolo.
In fact, it probably shows them everything about their skills, such as: Arm strength, release time, accuracy, pocket presence, decision-making, timing, athleticism to sidestep or escape a pass rush and passing efficiency from both a clean and congested pocket.
Shanahan said he already knows what to expect when he watches Fields in person.
“I’m excited to see him eventually in person,” Shanahan said on March 29, when he last spoke publicly. “But (we) also got a lot of tape to go off, too. I know he's going to throw it really good in person and be really fast in person, also."
The 49ers will maximize their allotted Zoom meetings with each of the quarterback candidates. At this stage, those interviews and information-gathering sessions are more likely to prompt a quarterback to rise or fall than anything that occurs during the pro days.
They will get a read on the players’ personalities, their passions for the sport, and how each of them embraces the monotony of studying hours upon hours of film.
Shanahan is known to be tough with players during the interviews. He will show bad plays. And he will want to know what happened. He will want the player to explain in precise detail what the play called for, what he saw and why he made the play he did.
He does not want to hear excuses, either, such as from a high-profile player in a recent draft class who blamed a decidedly negative play on his college coaches.
Shanahan will dig and dig until he gets a good feel for how a player is apt to handle tough coaching. And, then, he will move on to the next play and the next for more interrogations.
Quarterback is unlike any other position in sports. The requirements of the position do not end with how a player performs on the field.
Shanahan and Lynch will study everything about Fields and Lance, just as they did Jones on their March 30 visit to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Fields and Lance reportedly will incorporate some of the staples of Shanahan’s offense, as well as some of his preferred drills, into their workouts. All 32 teams in the NFL are allowed to attend these additional pro days, but these extra sessions are being specifically designed with the 49ers in mind.
After all, Trevor Lawrence will be the No. 1 overall pick. It appears to be a foregone conclusion the New York Jets will select BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2.
That leaves Fields, Lance and Jones as the only legitimate options for the 49ers with the No. 3 overall selection.
There will be no surprises during these workouts. The 49ers already know what they are going to see, based on studying each of the quarterbacks the past two seasons.
The 49ers’ scrutiny of the prospects will now include examinations of their less-tangible attributes. They will see how the quarterbacks command their performances, how they interact with teammates. They will be interested to see the body language of the prospects if they miss a throw.
There is no computer program that spits out the specs for the best quarterback decision. The 49ers will ultimately rely on equal parts what they see on film from college and how they expect the players to handle the demands at the next level.
Shanahan and Lynch will be seeking to make a connection toward a union that will be largely responsible for the long-term fate of the franchise.
And that is not hyperbole.
If the quarterback they select at No. 3 turns out to be a failure, Shanahan and Lynch will have failed, too.