The San Francisco 49ers are in prime position to select one of the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft after acquiring the No. 3 overall pick in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence appears to be headed to the Jaguars at No. 1, while widespread reports have the Jets targeting BYU passer Zach Wilson at No. 2, especially in the wake of New York trading away Sam Darnold earlier this week. This still leaves highly touted quarterbacks like Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Mac Jones and North Dakota State's Trey Lance on the board, along with a choice of any other non-QB prospect.
With a big decision for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan hanging the balance, one question comes to mind:
What should the 49ers do with the third overall pick?
Brian Baldinger: Cue the commissioner: "With the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Mac Jones, quarterback, Alabama." No. 3 overall might be far higher up the board than Jones thought he'd be a few months ago, but Patrick Mahomes never thought he would be the 10th overall pick in 2017 either. If you look at Shanahan's history -- going back to working with Matt Schaub in Houston, Kirk Cousins in Washington, and Matt Ryan in Atlanta -- his quarterbacks are all physically comparable to Jones. Heck, you can throw in Brian Hoyer in Cleveland for a year, as well. Jones doesn't need to be Superman for San Francisco; he just needs to be a smart, tough, efficient thrower. And in my opinion, no one in college football was better than Jones in 2020.
Marc Ross: If you have the third pick, you better take one of the most talented players in the draft. Furthermore, if you trade three first-rounders and a third to get that No. 3 pick, you better take a quarterback who has a chance to be one of the best players in the league. That player is Justin Fields. He can efficiently operate an offense, but also offers exceptional play-making ability -- better than any other QB prospect in this class, in my opinion. Teams don't win Super Bowls with system quarterbacks or by out-scheming their opponents. They win with a transcendent talent at the game's most important position.
Joe Thomas: You don't give up the No. 12 overall selection, a third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and '23 to draft a non-QB. You just don't. I would be downright shocked if the 49ers went that route. Ohio State signal-caller Justin Fields would give this offense a high ceiling as an extremely accurate passer and great athlete, two qualities that fit perfectly into Kyle Shanahan's system.
Adam Rank: The 49ers should take a quarterback, and the one of their choosing. I know many people have a wide variety of opinions on this matter, wondering if it's going to be Mac Jones or Justin Fields. But the truth is, none of us know which player Kyle Shanahan prefers. And for all we know, maybe he wants Penei Sewell. But my advice is to take your quarterback and move on.
Charley Casserly: I think Mac Jones fits what Kyle Shanahan wants in his offense. He is smart, anticipates well and has good instincts. Jones' accuracy is very good and he's an excellent leader. Shanahan has won with Kirk Cousins (a 2012 fourth-round pick) and Jimmy Garoppolo (a 2014 second-rounder), so there's a good chance he can win with Jones under center. And while Jones doesn't have the long-range potential of Justin Fields or Trey Lance, he is the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft class (even if he has the lowest ceiling of the top dogs). I see similarities between Jones and new Bears QB Andy Dalton.
David Carr: They should take Justin Fields. His ability is wide-ranging with an arm that can reach any area of the field and the athleticism to extend plays with his legs and put pressure on the defense. Imagine what Kyle Shanahan' offense will look like with Fields under center. It'll be unlike anything we've seen in the past.