All eyes now are on the 49ers in the 2021 NFL Draft.
After acquiring the No. 3 overall pick via a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins on Friday, the 49ers now are the point at which the first round of the NFL draft is expected to hinge. Trevor Lawrence is all but assured to be the No. 1 overall pick, and most experts believe the New York Jets will select BYU's Zach Wilson at No. 2.
The 49ers then will have their pick of Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones. To NBC Sports' Chris Simms, Jones is the one he believes coach Kyle Shanahan wants.
"I think it's Mac Jones, I do," Simms told Mike Florio on "PFT Live." "I don't know that. But just knowing my friend, knowing his history, knowing his school of thought to make that type of move, that's the one that makes sense to me.
"I think [Jones] makes sense because after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson -- and you know I think those are the top two guys in the draft, with Zach Wilson being No. 1 -- [Jones] is the most NFL-ready right now. I would say Zach Wilson and Mac Jones to me are more NFL-ready as far as reading NFL defenses and being able to do NFL offense type of stuff. You know, Trevor Lawrence was in a little bit more of a collegey offense. I'm not trying to disrespect him with that. I think within that Mac Jones is NFL-ready right now, and I think that's the kind of guy you trade up to No. 3 to get.
"You don't trade up for a Trey Lance with, 'Well, he's got great talent, but we're not sure. It's a little bit of a gamble. There are some things we need to help him with and grow his technique and figure those type of things out.' I think that goes with Justin Fields, too. It's a little bit more of a project. So, I don't think you trade up to No. 3 pick for that guy. I think you trade up for a guy where you go, 'I think if I had to, that this guy could start and play this year, ready to go Week 1.' And that, to me, smells like Mac Jones because I expect Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence to be gone, of course."
In fact, Simms, who likens Jones to former Shanahan disciple Matt Ryan, would be stunned if the 49ers didn't call Jones' name on draft day.
"I think he's sitting there going, 'I think this guy's just like that,' " Simms said of Shanahan. "He's talented like Matt Ryan, and he can dice you up with his arm and his brain, his decision-making. And the athleticism is enough for him to do the boots and play-action for my offense. And if you give me a crack of more than two years with a quarterback like that, I think he thinks, 'I'm going to win a Super Bowl.' And I think that's ultimately why he makes that type of decision. And I like I said, I will be shocked if it's not Mac Jones at No. 3. I really would be."
Jones is coming off an incredible season at Alabama in which he threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns with just four interceptions while completing 77.4 percent of his passes. He's a quick processor who is extremely accurate in the short and intermediate passing areas, and also has great in-pocket mobility, which allows him to extend plays with subtle movements.
The big knocks on Jones are his lack of elite athleticism and that some believe his production was due to the wealth of talent around him at Alabama and not his own ability.
Jones might not have a ceiling as high as Fields or Lance, but Simms is correct in that the Crimson Tide star should be able to thrive early in the NFL if surrounded by playmakers, protection and a good play-caller.
The 49ers check all those boxes, and Shanahan will be on hand Tuesday for Jones' pro day, choosing to watch the Alabama QB instead of Fields, who will throw in Columbus on the same day.
It's smokescreen season, so the 49ers might not be locked in on Jones. But Simms knows Shanahan well, and believes Jones is exactly the guy he and the 49ers have been missing.