The San Francisco 49ers are a hot topic leading up to the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. They traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick to jump all the way up from No. 12 to No. 3 overall. They did so presumably to have their pick of whichever quarterbacks are left after the Jaguars and Jets each go QB with the first two selections.
With only three days to go before the big event, the general public has a pretty good idea of who the Niners will have to choose from. Trevor Lawrence will go first, as has been foretold for years now. The Jets seemed zeroed in on Zach Wilson to the point the pick seems inevitable. San Francisco, therefore, will choose from Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Justin Fields. This was probably going to be the case when the Niners traded up earlier this month, and now we know almost for sure this is how it's going to unfold.
The Niners gave up much draft capital to have this choice. While there have been plenty of rumors suggesting they could go any number of ways, the signs point to Alabama product Jones. While this is a puzzling choice for any number of reasons, one prospect rising above the others before the draft began makes sense because San Francisco gave up so much to move to No. 3. They must have already had a very good idea of who they wanted and did what they had to in order to get their guy.
Monday, however, brought some rather concerning rumors out of the Bay Area camp. Adam Schefter is reporting that a month ago Jones was the pick, but after digging into everyone else the front office is split.
People can change their minds. Moving up because they felt comfortable picking Jones and then realizing he might not be the best choice is precisely why they made this move a month before the draft as opposed to the day of. That isn't the concerning portion of the situation.
What should be worrying is that they still haven't decided on the pick. This is a franchise-defining decision we have right here. San Francisco gave up two first-round picks to make this call. To be uncertain about what that call will be, less than four days from when they have to make it, isn't exactly ideal.
Obviously this could be a part of the grand smokescreen game. Shanahan basically confirmed what Schefter said in his press conference today, but NFL teams like their secrets and their misinformation more than they should. Shanahan and John Lynch may very well be 100 percent locked in on Jones but want to keep everyone on their toes.
However! If this isn't a smokescreen and the Niners are still figuring it out, I'd be mighty concerned were I a fan of the team. If they pick the wrong guy at No. 3, their championship window could already be gone. As good as Shanahan's system is, the 2019 season proved teams still need an above-average quarterback who can make that play at that time to win a Super Bowl. If Jones tops out as average while Fields or Lance goes on to star, the pick will be looked back on as the catalyst for the Niners' downfall. On the flip side, Shanahan and Lynch could be lauded as geniuses for trading up if they nail the pick and become a regular championship contender.
It's a lot of pressure. The Niners can't get it wrong. To hear they're still torn about it? That's not great, Bob.