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Throughout the national media there has been a strong push for the San Francisco 49ers to take Mac Jones - both from some well-respected voices and NFL insiders - but it’s something that I just can’t buy into. When it was announced that the 49ers made the franchise-changing trade by moving up from 12th to 3rd, Justin Fields was the odds-on favorite to be picked third overall. Keep in mind also that these guys haven’t been playing football since the college season ended, and I don’t believe Pro Days or private workouts are that impactful to swing the odds as much as they’ve been swung leading up to this point. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd made a great point as well, that since John Lynch became the general manager of the 49ers, nothing has leaked from their organization when it comes to moves that they’ve made.
So now my strong opinion as to why I believe Fields will be the 49ers next quarterback: in Kyle Shanahan’s most recent interview, he made two statements that stood out the most to me. One of them was “He’d want somebody that moves like Lamar Jackson and is accurate like Drew Brees.” The other statement was his stance on Jimmy G being on the roster in the near future (a very different stance from wanting Jimmy G to still be the starter this season). This tells me that he’s confident after his evaluations that the quarterback he chooses will be ready to start day one, as they’ve come off their stance of wanting to get a first round pick back for Jimmy G. Also, if Shanahan wants a quarterback that’s accurate like Drew Brees and can move like Lamar Jackson, well that isn’t Mac Jones. Another factor at play here is that Shanahan had Justin Fields and Trey Lance go through a second private workout controlled by the 49ers and led by John Beck, whom coach Shanahan has a lot of trust in - and Mac Jones did not work with Beck.
One of the biggest negatives the media has pushed about Fields were his bad games that came against Northwestern and Indiana, but what they didn’t mention is that those defenses were ranked in the top 10 in the country and in opponent yards per point. When Ohio State played Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship they were also missing 22 PLAYERS due to COVID-19, including their star wide receiver.
The last point I’ll make as to why I believe Fields will still be the third pick - according to Pro Football Focus’ Draft Board, they currently have Justin Fields ranked as the third best player AND quarterback in this draft, and over the last two seasons he has a grade of 90 or better (he and Trevor Lawrence or the only two QB's in this draft that have done that) - so that is the reason I believe they traded up to the third pick.
Lastly, you have to consider the reasons for upgrading over Jimmy G. Outside of his injury history, Jimmy G would also commit turnovers more than Shanahan liked, and looking at Fields throughout his college career (67 TD's, less than 10 INT's), his biggest strength was his accuracy, even though he consistently attacked down the field with 69.9% of his pass yards through the air. This is a strength of Fields that would take Shanahan’s dominant system to another level, a lot like Patrick Mahomes did in Andy Reid’s system.
Best Value Bet: Justin Fields to be the Number 3 Overall Pick +550 (FanDuel)