49ers NFL Draft 2021: Giving quarterback Mac Jones his due

Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

What kind of quarterback do 49ers want?

Yes, Mac Jones will be a reach at No. 3. But if San Francisco selects him, there will be those who support the decision by saying the 49ers didn’t take any risks to ensure they’d get their guy.

And if Jones winds up being the decision, well, that’s that.

Jones has the upside of being accurate and poised within the pocket, particularly on well-timed routes in the short and intermediate portions of the field. Those are staples to Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

But Jones isn’t going to give Shanahan and the Niners much more than that. If anything, one might see Jones as only a modest trajectory upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, although obviously younger and coming in on a rookie contract.

Yet if San Francisco is giving up on Garoppolo sooner than later, why replace him with someone of a similar ilk?

It’s likely a philosophical decision Shanahan will have to make: going with an engineer of a well-coordinated offense or going with a playmaker who, while arguably has a less well-rounded body of work, can do all the off-script and explosive things indicative of many of the other top-end quarterbacks taking over the league today.

A pro-level decision equivalent might be choosing between the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen or the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins.

Shanahan’s prior preference for Cousins might indicate an answer regarding Jones, but there’s little doubt the 49ers head coach understands how Allen has worked his way into becoming one of the league’s elite signal-callers, a category Cousins has never been at nor likely ever will.

Either way, Shanahan’s choice will certainly end up defining his head-coaching tenure in San Francisco.

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