5 early contenders for SF 49ers first pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Patrick Surtain II #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Patrick Surtain II #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Mac Jones, Alabama Crimson Tide, SF 49ers
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports /

The SF 49ers could go one of many different ways in the 2021 NFL Draft, yet one of these five names could be called by the Niners in Round 1.

Unlike the 2019 NFL Draft when the SF 49ers were essentially deciding between EDGE Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the No. 2 overall pick, depending on what the top-drafting Arizona Cardinals were going to do, the 2021 draft could see general manager John Lynch and Co. go a number of different directions.

Currently, Lynch and the Niners own the No. 12 overall pick in the draft. As such, there’s no shortage of speculation surrounding what Lynch’s decision-making process would be. Is San Francisco truly looking at a quarterback in what’s considered a very top-heavy class of franchise-changing talent? And if so, would a trade up be mandatory?

What about staying put or trading down? And is there a chance for the SF 49ers to select another position, perhaps even another defensive lineman again, which could come as something of a shock?

All the chatter, reports and rumors have led to some early possibilities, and Niner Noise explores five names who are among the early contenders to be the Niners’ top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Starting off with a quarterback, of course.

SF 49ers Contender No. 5: Quarterback Mac Jones, Alabama

Mac Jones. 5. player. 829. . Quarterback. Crimson Tide

Quarterback Mac Jones certainly impressed scouts with his five-touchdown performance in Alabama’s dominant championship-game win over Ohio State.

Jones isn’t close to the tier other top-name signal-callers are in, such as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson. Yet Jones is certainly in the mix to lead off the next batch of quarterbacks taken on draft day.

While Jones going at No. 12 overall could be quite the reach, it’s important to note many a quarterback’s stock level rises between the end of the NCAA season and draft day.

Plus, even though Jones isn’t of the modern-day mobile-quarterback variety, his mental processing and on-field IQ seem to be tailor-made for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

That alone puts Jones in contention for San Francisco’s first overall pick this April.

And for those wondering if it would be a reach, perhaps. But if the SF 49ers are set on a player like Jones, they won’t care if they grabbed him a bit too soon rather than a bit too late.