New era of NFL quarterbacks pose challenge to 49ers, league

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Lamar Jackson (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

No. 2: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

Mobile quarterbacks are not a new concept to the NFL. Just look up the game film on Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, Steve McNair, Michael Vick to name a few.

In Young’s case, he led the league with the highest passer rating six times, had the highest completion percentage five times and was second all-time for quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with 43 career rushing touchdowns. He also ranks fourth all time in rushing for QBs (behind Vick, Cunningham and Cam Newton) with 4,239 yards.

And yet, matched against the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, Murray, Watson and the like, Young’s athleticism and speed would pale in comparison.

Jackson is not only blessed with elite game speed, elusiveness and athleticism, but he was also markedly improved in 2019 in passing accuracy at 66.1 percent as opposed to his completion percentage in college of just 56.2 percent.

Jackson’s many gifts were on full display when the 49ers traveled to Baltimore in Week 13 last season:

On the season, Jackson had 36 passing touchdowns, six interceptions with 3,127 yards passing and an incredible 1,206 yards rushing. To no one’s surprise, the Ravens star was named the NFL’s MVP in 2019. He also led the team to the AFC’s No. 1 seed last season, and even though they fell short of their Super Bowl aspirations, Jackson and the Ravens should be back in the thick of the hunt in 2020.

It was reported the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner was asked at the 2018 NFL Combine to work out at wide receiver, which angered him enough to decline running the 40-yard dash.

That, along with questions about his passing accuracy in college, has seemed to fuel Jackson to reach and achieve next-level statistics reminiscent of Madden’s video game numbers.

With another year in former 49ers and current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s system, as well as the added motivation to get back to the playoffs and potentially to the Super Bowl, Jackson may just be scratching the surface of his immense abilities.

And if that is the case, the Niners and the rest of the league better be ready for that challenge.