SF 49ers NFL Draft needs: Zach Wilson stock on the rise

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

While it’s unclear whether or not the SF 49ers move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, the chatter about BYU’s Zach Wilson is certainly getting louder.

Look, there are plenty of reasons why the SF 49ers don’t part ways with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason.

Sure, one can rightfully argue he’s reached his ceiling and doesn’t mandate the $27.5 million-per-year average he’s currently receiving. And it’s possible head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to move onto someone younger, cheaper and potentially more potent within his offensive system.

Put simply, Garoppolo probably gives the Niners as good a chance to make it back to the Super Bowl as anyone available between now and the start of 2021.

But if San Francisco does elect to move on from Jimmy G, it appears the fan/pundit favorite is BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who is being compared to “this year’s version” of former LSU, now-Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

According to Matt Barr of the 4th & Gold Podcast, SF 49ers Vice President of Player Personnel Adam Peters was onhand for Wilson and BYU’s game against Boise State on Nov. 6.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller later backed up the report.

Wilson isn’t quite in the ranks of top-prospect quarterbacks like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who are likely to be the first two names called in this April’s draft. But that doesn’t matter to San Francisco anyway, as the SF 49ers are likely to select anywhere in the teens, perhaps in the top 10, should the Niners’ 2020 campaign truly run awry.

Currently, Pro Football Focus has Wilson ranked as the No. 18 overall prospect on their 2020 big board, potentially right in San Francisco’s draft range, provided Wilson’s stock doesn’t rise.

But Burrow’s did last year all the way to No. 1.

Lawrence and Fields could potentially prevent that from happening, yet Wilson could find himself just out of the SF 49ers’ reach, barring some kind of draft-day trade up.

Zach Wilson hype for SF 49ers only beginning to grow

In case you were wondering, here are some notable Twitter reactions to the idea of Wilson becoming the next Niners quarterback:

OK, enough with the hype. It’s there.

Wilson seems to be a tailored fit for Shanahan’s offense. He has good downfield accuracy, seems to be made for bootlegs, play-action passes, rollouts and the like, which are all staples of Shanahan’s system.

The major hope, of course, is for a quarterback like Wilson to do more than what San Francisco has received from Garoppolo the last year-plus. That would include improv plays, getting to secondary and tertiary reads and so on.

Like Garoppolo, though, Wilson does have a bit of an injury history, including a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. That might be something worth monitoring. And without getting too deep into the medical side of things, it’s possible this becomes something of a chronic issue affecting Wilson’s pro career.

Fans don’t seem too concerned about Wilson’s health status, though. If there’s going to be a transition from Jimmy G to someone else, it certainly appears as if the BYU signal-caller is the name to watch.

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Provided his draft hype doesn’t carry him out of the Niners’ range, however.