By trading up nine spots to the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers have at once put themselves in a great position to secure their next franchise quarterback and to get stuck in quite a pickle. Mac Jones emerged as the consensus selection but recently there's been an air of uncertainty as rumors persist that there's a bit of a schism behind closed doors.
Broadly, the idea is that those with the most power would prefer the Alabama product, who has a much lower ceiling than Trey Lance, a high-risk, high-reward option out of North Dakota State, whereas the in-house scouts prefer the former Division I star. Whether there's truth to all this matters but like so many things, it matters a lot less when that becomes the accepted public perception.
This week has already brought an awkward press conference in which Niners coach Kyle Shanahan waxed existential about the uncertainty of life just so he could avoid a question about Jimmy Garoppolo, who now appears to have a rapidly approaching expiration date as the man under center in the Bay Area.
Thursday night will come and bring the selection of either Jones or Lance. But that certainly won't be the end of it. Everyone needs to report back to work on Friday. Then the introductory presser. Then the minicamp. The training camp. The preseason. The regular season. Then the one after that.
All eyes will be on San Francisco to see if the franchise made the correct choice. Jones may play well to begin with, but the jury will be out until far into the future when we find out just what type of pro Lance becomes. Or Lance may struggle in a golden helmet for a bit, but then far exceed anything Jones does on the professional level.
Fairly or otherwise, these two quarterbacks are tied together, along with Garoppolo and even Justin Fields. The take stew is simmering in the Niners Crockpot, slow-cooking and bound to bubble over at any time.
The relentless content machine that is NFL draft coverage did this to them. Though they certainly helped bring all the limelight to their doorstep.
The number three pick and almost limitless options present opportunity and the opportunity for it to go horribly wrong in a self-inflicted mess.
San Francisco is going to be on the clock for the next few years, no matter which choice is made.