The 49ers are now picking third in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they don’t take Zach Wilson, the trade was a complete bust.
The San Francisco 49ers made what could be the biggest trade in franchise history, moving up from No. 12 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to the No. 3 spot in exchange with the Miami Dolphins.
But it’ll mean nothing if the Niners don’t take BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the third overall selection.
It’s clear general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan want to find their franchise quarterback. Even if Jimmy Garoppolo is penciled in to be the starter this year, his leash is extremely short with the potential to still trade him by or during the NFL Draft.
Niner Noise’s Robert Morrison took a look at Garoppolo’s future.
Wilson’s pro day was March 26, and there were some big names in attendance, as reported by The Athletic’s Matt Barrows:
The BYU prospect showed accuracy on his deep throws, highlighted his ability to move inside and outside the pocket, and proved he’s worthy of being picked within the top three.
San Francisco traded a lot of draft capital to Miami for the potential of taking Wilson.
If the 49ers select anyone but a quarterback, it’ll be considered a failed pick. Wilson has been a draft crush for many Niners fans. And with this franchise alternating trade, the fairytale ending could be in sight.
In 2020, the potential third overall selection threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, three interceptions, and completed 73 percent of his passes.
He also rushed for 254 yards and 10 scores.
Niner Faithful obviously wants a quarterback who can stay healthy. Wilson’s last known injury was back in 2019 when he was dealing with shoulder surgery. A far cry from Garoppolo, who’s only had one healthy season since arriving halfway through 2017.
Shanahan also would like to have a mobile presence in the pocket. It would positively change how creative he can be.
Imagine having Wilson lead the offense with wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, along with tight end George Kittle and a healthy, stacked offensive line.
What if the 49ers lose out on Zach Wilson?
Wilson should be the expected pick for the 49ers. But if he gets selected by the New York Jets at No. 2 overall, the Niners will need a Plan B.
It sounds like Shanahan and Lynch are fine with the variety of options available to them. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields’ name has been floating around, and even Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is still a viable alternative with the third pick.
Fields is a capable starter in the Shanahan system. But in the CFP National Championship game against Alabama, he had a less-than-stellar outing.
He only completed 51 percent of his passes with one touchdown. A small blemish in an otherwise decent 2020 season. But it does make you wonder if he’d be able to get the job done when it matters the most.
Jones, whom many thought would go to the 49ers at No. 12 overall, is apparently still an option at the third slot. He outperformed Fields in the championship game by throwing for five touchdowns, 464 yards, and completed an outstanding 80 percent of his passes.
For the 2020 season, Jones threw for 41 touchdowns, 4,500 yards, and only four interceptions.
The question is, did the 49ers trade the future away for a prospect who most likely is still there nine picks later?
Most likely not.
With roughly a month until the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio, the 49ers have put themselves in win-now mode. And, to accomplish their goals, Wilson should be taken with their first selection otherwise this was all for naught.