The Niners Sound Like They Plan On Drafting Mac Jones And Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo

The San Francisco 49ers made an aggressive move last week when they pulled off a trade with the Miami Dolphins to jump up to No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft. The presumption was that the team moved up that much with an eye on a signal caller, as it’s exceedingly rare for teams pull off that kind of move for any reason other than landing a quarterback.

Almost immediately, two things started circulating. For one, the team did not plan on trying to move on from starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo, even if they took a quarterback with the third pick. The other was that amid what is an ultra-promising quarterback class, the guy the Niners have targeted was not Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, but rather, Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Both of these things were taken a step farther on Monday, when head coach Kyle Shanahan addressed both of these things prior to heading to Tuscaloosa for the Crimson Tide’s Pro Day and seemed to reveal his hand.

Obviously a key component of Draft season is to throw up smokescreens all over the place, and at the very least, “we plan on keeping Jimmy G despite the fact that we appear to be in the market for a quarterback,” is one hell of an attempt at keeping Garoppolo’s value afloat for trade discussions. It is also important to mention that there is no guarantee this is for Jones, because Alabama has a pair of receivers in this class — Heisman winner DeVonta Smith and speedster Jaylen Waddle — who would be outstanding fits in that offense. Having said that…

Listen, no disrespect to Jones, who had an outstanding season for Alabama in his one year under center, but this entire process by the Niners is astounding. Now, the team does have some flexibility with how it can handle Garoppolo’s contract, so at least there is that. Still, going all-in like this to take Jones, who is arguably the most limited of the five quarterbacks expected to go in the first round, is eyebrow-raising. He is a good fit in the Niners’ offense with some of the short and intermediate routes he’ll be asked to throw, but Lance and especially Fields are good at this, too, and both add a vertical threat and mobility that aren’t totally strengths of Jones’ game. Even if one wants to argue that Jones is the most ready of the three to play right away or the safest of the three — while I do like Jones, I’d take Fields here, but that’s neither here nor there — it’s a curious move, but Shanahan seems to no longer want to play a coy game with his preference with the third pick.