49ers 7-round mock 2021 NFL Draft with only Big Ten players

A detailed view of the Big Ten logo (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
A detailed view of the Big Ten logo (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
2 of 10
Justin Fields, 49ers mock draft
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

812. . Quarterback. Buckeyes . Justin Fields. 3. player

49ers Round 1 Pick, No. 3 Overall: Quarterback Justin Fields

Honestly, even if this were a run-of-the-mill mock draft, Justin Fields would be the pick here. And, to my mind, it shouldn’t even be a conversation.

Sure, Alabama’s Mac Jones might have the intelligence and might look the most like a prototypical Kyle Shanahan quarterback, but if the consideration that Jones is the pick is based solely on what Shanahan has already done during his tenure as head coach of the 49ers, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Shanahan himself has gone on record as noting that his ideas about the quarterback are evolving, especially after watching his battered defense get taken to the woodshed by the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen in 2020.

And the coach’s body language on the sideline as he watched quarterbacks with adequate but not great arm talent and decent but not elite athleticism run his offense over the last few years suggests he might be looking for something more.

So Fields — who has elite arm talent, pocket presence, and athleticism and also happens to be the smartest quarterback prospect in the draft — has to be the pick to really unlock what Shanahan is able to do with his offense.

The 49ers have shown in the two years where Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been healthy that they need a signal-caller who can be good in spite of his surroundings. With all due respect to Garoppolo, he is not that guy.

Justin Fields has a chance to be.

The Niners mortgaged the future a little bit, so they need a guy who transcends the scheme, and a guy like Fields can do that for the next decade or more.