Recent speculation of the 49ers trading up to draft Mac Jones instead of Fields has surfaced, but don’t expect such a great organization to make a colossal mistake like that.
The 49ers made a splash in the news last week by trading their 12th overall pick, a third-round pick in 2022, and two future first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 for the 3rd overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft. Even with all of the talented QB’s in this year’s draft, that is a lot to give up for simply one selection. However, the 49ers obviously felt like they needed to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo to win a Super Bowl, something they fell just short of in 2020.
Garoppolo did not have to do much other than being a high-end game manager to make it to the Super Bowl, since Kyle Shanahan’s exquisite offensive game plan benefited the run game, not to mention a dominant defense had the 49ers clicking on all cylinders. Even though Jimmy Garoppolo played okay in Super Bowl LIV, he had a miserable fourth quarter and missed Emmanuel Sanders on a deep route that would have likely been a touchdown and won them the Super Bowl. Granted, the 49ers defense also collapsed in the fourth quarter multiple times, especially when they were ahead 20-10 on a 3rd and 15 with just over 7 minutes to play in the game when Patrick Mahomes was pressured but still found a find a wide-open Tyreek Hill for a 44-yard catch that completely shifted the momentum of the game.
Was this Jimmy G’s fault? No, but if he was truly an elite QB he could have avoided this collapse by leading the 49ers down the field to answer with a touchdown at least once in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV.
Regardless, Jimmy G isn’t getting it done and the whole organization is ready to move on from him, which is indicative of trading for the #3 overall pick in the draft. There has been a lot of speculation from multiple NFL insiders and scouts that the 49ers traded up to select either Zach Wilson or Mac Jones. With all signs pointing to the Jets selecting Wilson, Dan Orlovsky, Chris Simms, and Todd McShay all believe that the 49ers are going to select Mac Jones. Many experts believe that he fits the 49ers system.
However, all year long Trevor Lawerence and Justin Fields were the projected #1 and #2 overall picks so what happened? It’s not like Fields had a bad year. I mean he did outplay Trevor Lawerence in the CFP Semi-Final game against Clemson where he threw for 5 touchdown passes. I have heard rumors that some teams gave him a fourth-round grade, which is ridiculous considering his elite speed(4.44 40 yard dash) and big arm(which was also shown on his pro day). Fields’ mix of speed and big arm strength put him in a class with no one else in this draft and only a few players in the NFL. But the misconception that Fields doesn’t work hard and is overrated continues to plague the media, especially with ESPN NFL Insider Dan Orlovsky publicly criticizing Fields’ work ethic, leadership, and potential, which has all been debunked by Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and anyone that knows Justin Fields.
This kind of criticism toward a top prospect happens every draft, such as when scouts and insiders questioned Justin Herbert’s work ethic last year and Josh Allen’s consistency a couple of years back. Turns out, these question marks were misconceptions as both Justin Herbert and Josh Allen are already elite NFL QBs. The same is being done to Justin Fields, who looks and plays the part of being a future NFL pro-bowler. Imagine him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense with such a talented team and brilliant scheme, where Fields’ arm strength and running ability would be able to lead this team to possibly a Super Bowl in his first season. That’s what Justin Fields brings to the table. If Jimmy Garoppolo can lead you to a Super Bowl, Justin Fields can lead you to multiple Super Bowls no question.
So with speculation about the 49ers taking Jones continuing to go around the league, are the 49ers playing with the media and leading on the rest of the NFL by letting this speculation go around? I think this is the case because even though I think Mac Jones will be a decent NFL QB, but he has a third or fourth-round grade in my mind. I believe there are at least five-six QBs better than Jones. Therefore, with the 49ers being such a top-tier organization, they can’t and won’t make the mistake of selecting Jones with the 3rd overall selection. If Justin Fields is available at #3 as many assume he will be(since Lawerence is going 1 and Wilson is presumed to be going 2), then there is no thought process or question about the selection. They have to take him.
In fact, the 49ers will be lucky to draft Fields with the 3rd pick, since realistically he should go before Wilson. Wilson is talented and has that big-game Mahomes swag with his big-play ability, strong arm, pocket awareness, and running ability, but he is not as good as Fields and may never be. Time will tell. If the Jets get any sense and Fields is off the board at #2, then the 49ers end up with Wilson and are happy either way, since any QB will thrive in the 49ers system, even Mac Jones. But can Mac Jones or Zach Wilson lead this 49ers team to a Super Bowl in their first season? No. But Justin Fields can as he has been groomed for big moments like this since high school.