There has been confusion around the NFL as to how Justin Fields, who once was considered the surefire second-best quarterback in the 2021 class, now is expected to have three signal-callers selected ahead of him in the upcoming draft.
Many 49ers fans have been clamoring for Fields to be the team's selection at No. 3 ever since the organization made the bold decision to trade up nine spots, but reports now consistently are linking the team to Mac Jones and Trey Lance as the finalists for that spot.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport says that while Fields isn't likely to be the 49ers' choice with the third pick, that doesn't mean he has fallen on the draft boards of most other teams around the league.
“It’s not that they don’t like Justin Fields, truly I talked to many, many teams that have Justin Fields as the No. 3 prospect when it comes to quarterbacks, a lot of teams," Rapoport told Rich Eisen. "I would say most teams actually have Justin Fields as the three, so it doesn't mean he’s falling, it just means when you’re talking about Kyle Shanahan’s offense, they want someone to be able to engineer it and run it like Kyle wants. Mac Jones has a beautiful mind as they say, he is extremely smart, Trey Lance extremely smart, I’m not saying Justin Fields is not at all, because he got very good grades and is also smart, but on the field, it's all a projection but we did not see Fields go through his progressions like the others.
"That is my best guess as to why not Fields, but I don’t take this to mean that Fields is falling, just probably not going to be with this particular team.”
Jones generally wasn't considered a top-five selection until the 49ers traded up, indicating that they might be one of the few teams as high on Jones as they are.
As Rapoport said, most teams have Fields as the third-best QB, and might have taken him in that spot if in the same shoes the 49ers now find themselves in.
There has been an exhausting amount of reports linking the 49ers to Jones, Lance and Fields throughout this process.
Whoever this team chooses, that player will be the QB Shanahan truly believes will be the best going forward in the 49ers' scheme.
Plenty of anonymous sourcing and reporting will continue until the pick is announced Thursday night, but one thing is for sure: this rookie QB and how he performs will define the tenure of both Shanahan and Lynch.