49ers rumors: Niners have ‘not made a decision’ on a quarterback

American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s widespread speculation the 49ers will select quarterback Mac Jones at No. 3 overall in the NFL Draft, but the latest reports say it’s not certain.

Ever since the San Francisco 49ers moved up from No. 12 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to the third overall spot, the overwhelming speculation has been general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are zeroing in on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.

Despite the strong possibility Jones could have been available anyway at No. 12 overall in the first place.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter originally proclaimed Jones would be the pick, then recanted a bit by saying the Niners were keeping “an open mind.”

Now, this seems to be the definitive answer with regards to whether or not San Francisco has actually made a decision, and it was backed up on Monday by Pro Football Talk’s Peter King, who said the 49ers remain undecided on their future quarterback:

"Much was made of the Niners trading up to number three in the draft, and favoring Alabama’s Mac Jones with that third overall pick. I’ve been told the team has not made a decision who to take—I’m still guessing Jones—and the next eight days will be crucial in fact-finding.Coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch will be at second Pro Days for both Justin Fields in Columbus (Wednesday) and Trey Lance in North Dakota (next Monday)."

King’s remarks, specifically him saying he’s guessing, points to the difference between speculation and reports. It’s one thing to “think” the Niners are leading towards Jones, while it’s another to source a report from someone close to the situation, saying something along the lines of “I’ve heard San Francisco is leaning towards Jones over someone like Fields or Lance.”

That’s a key difference.

Justin Fields, Trey Lance’s pro days could be the difference for 49ers

Lynch and Shanahan already attended the second of Jones’ pro days, and now the front-office tandem is poised to do the same for Fields and Lance.

So far, only the Niners and New England Patriots are planning on attending the second pro day for Fields, who is widely viewed as the third best quarterbacking option in this year’s NFL Draft behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson.

Lance, meanwhile, saw just one game of action for the Bison in 2020 and has only one full year as a starter, 2019, meaning he’ll likely take some time to fully acclimate to life at the NFL level. If he somehow ends up convincing Shanahan he’s worth the investment, San Francisco still has the luxury of letting Lance sit for a year behind current quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The same could be true of either Jones or Fields, too, although it would appear a necessity for Lance to have one year under his belt holding the clipboard.

From a simplistic assessment, Jones surely has the highest floor of any of the three quarterbacks likely available to the 49ers, yet Fields and Lance have far more potential as playmakers, and if their development and maturation proceed well enough, both could be iconic franchise-caliber quarterbacks in the vein of many of the young signal-callers taking the league by storm now.

Hence, it’s almost a philosophical decision for Shanahan: What kind of quarterback will he want?

The two pro-day evaluations for Lance and Fields will likely cement his decision.

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