49ers NFL Draft 2021: Criticizing rumors about Mac Jones

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s enough buzz going around the 49ers will select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, but let’s offer up some solid criticism instead.

Last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter hinted the San Francisco 49ers, after trading up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, will select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

“It’ll be Mac Jones,” Schefter told the DiPietro, Canty & Rothenberg Show (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area) when discussing the Niners’ top pick. Not Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and not even NDSU quarterback Trey Lance, who prospects who are widely viewed as much more dynamic and have a far higher ceiling than Jones.

Schefter’s suggestion has been backed up elsewhere, too, including The Draft Scout’s Matt Miller, who also locked Jones to San Francisco:

Sure, it’s possible head coach Kyle Shanahan has a preference for Jones over players like Fields or Lance. After all, Jones isn’t unlike the ilk of quarterbacks Shanahan has worked with in the past, the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan. And Shanahan will always prioritize accuracy and good decision-making over pure athletic prowess.

It’s easy to debate all day just where Jones, Fields and Lance rank in those categories, although there’s no debate Fields and Lance are the far-superior athletes and have a much greater ceiling.

So it’s also possible all this is just one giant 49ers smokescreen, too. But why would Shanahan and the Niners need to put up a smokescreen? After all, with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets all but locked into quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson at Nos. 1 and 2 overall, respectively, San Francisco doesn’t need to shade its intentions.

But the 49ers don’t need to reveal them either.

Plenty of 49ers speculation, not enough reports

It’s important to understand the difference between speculation and rumor.

Schefter didn’t cite a source “close to the situation” suggesting the Niners were honing in on Jones. Neither did Miller.

No, the idea of San Francisco wanting Jones was based more on speculation. The proverbial “I think Shanahan will want this guy over that guy” argument.

The notion of the 49ers being sold on Jones at No. 3 overall was something Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline (h/t 49ers Webzone) also was quick to dismiss:

"What I’m hearing, yeah, the Niners may like one of the quarterbacks more than the other, but they’re comfortable with many of the three guys because they like the skills of all three quarterbacks. …I’m just hearing, at this point in time, it’s not a given that Mac Jones is going to be selected by the Niners with the third selection."

“It’s not a given.” That’s the statement fans need to understand.

While there’s no apparent need for a smokescreen, it’s also not as if the Niners lack a precedent here.

49ers put up a smokescreen in 2019, too

Leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, San Francisco had a clear shot with the No. 2 overall selection at the highest-rated player on that year’s big board, EDGE Nick Bosa. The only question was what the top-drafting Arizona Cardinals would do, and widespread speculation proved to be correct.

They’d take quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall.

Yet despite not needing to create a smokescreen, the 49ers were still flirting with the notion they’d prefer defensive tackle Quinnen Williams over Bosa.

Remember this quote from general manager John Lynch to NBC Sports Bay Area about Williams?

"Just because he’s an excellent football player. The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen. He was just dominant.What a season he had. He’s a spectacular player. When you look at how your roster is currently comprised, when you have an opportunity to take a talent like that, you certainly look at every avenue to improve your team."

That was straight from the general manager’s mouth. And yet the Niners made the easy decision to go with Bosa regardless of the weeks of speculation and suggestion Williams could be the pick instead.

You’re not getting those kinds of quotes from Lynch or Shanahan right now. And yet the same kind of speculation is emanating from other NFL insiders about a lesser prospect being selected over ones with a higher ceiling.

So, if you’re thinking it’s true, San Francisco is locked in on Jones, think again. 2019 proved why this doesn’t have to be the case.

Next. 4 best-case scenarios for 49ers in 2021 NFL Draft. dark