After making an aggressive trade up to No. 3 overall, the San Francisco 49ers dominated speculation about the 2021 NFL Draft. With a move like that, most assumed the team had already decided on a quarterback. The Jacksonville Jaguars had Trevor Lawrence penciled in at No. 1 overall, and while there was some uncertainty at No. 2, most assumed the New York Jets were targeting BYU’s Zach Wilson.
No. 3 was, on the other hand, a complete mystery. Both Justin Fields and Trey Lance, the eventual pick, had moments when they were rumored to be the pick. For weeks, however, it appeared as if Alabama’s Mac Jones would leapfrog all the way to the top. There was a good reason for it, according to a report by Jeff Howe of The Athletic . Jones and his team were led to believe that the 49ers would select him with the third overall pick.
During pre-draft interviews, 49ers decision-makers implied to Mac Jones that he was their target, sources tell @jeffphowe.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 23, 2021
“The 49ers also conducted extensive research on Jones, speaking with coaches dating back to his high school days in Jacksonville, Fla. Instead, they sided with Lance, forcing Fields and Jones to wait their turns. The Chicago Bears moved up to No. 11 in the draft to get Ohio State’s Fields, while the New England Patriots stayed put at No. 15 and got their man.
This was a departure from the Jets’ approach at No. 2, according to Howe. Wilson was always the favorite to be the first overall pick, but the Jets never told him that he was the one.
The 49ers seemed to enjoy being the subject of so much speculation in the months leading up to the NFL Draft, and that trend has continued into the season. The team’s starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, has performed admirably, but Lance will almost certainly be replaced at some point. However, we may not be notified ahead of time if this occurs.
[ The Athletic ]
[ The Athletic ]