Mac Jones Rumors: NFL GM 'Confident' 49ers Will Take QB with No. 3 Overall Draft Pick

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 14, 2021

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 11: Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks off the field during halftime of the College Football Playoff National Championship football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

An anonymous NFL general manager is confident the San Francisco 49ers are going to select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the third overall pick in the 2021 draft on April 29.

The GM explained to Mike Sando of The Athletic on Wednesday that Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan follows in the footsteps of his father, former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, in evaluating quarterbacks. He said their time together in Washington leading up to the 2012 draft, when the franchise selected Robert Griffin III at the behest of owner Daniel Snyder but later took Kirk Cousins, is an example.

"Kyle and his dad went along with it, but they still drafted Kirk Cousins in the fourth round and all along, they thought Cousins was better, and essentially they were right," the general manager said. "Kyle comes to San Francisco and who does he want? Cousins. In the end, he wants Cousins and he sees Mac Jones having some of the same qualities. He doesn't fall in love with the physical traits."

The GM added: "I'm confident Mac Jones is Kyle's guy."

An NFL offensive coordinator stressed the expected decision by the Niners to select Jones over Ohio State's Justin Fields will be based on the fit for the offense.

"My own opinion is, I don't think Fields is [Shanahan's] style," the coordinator told Sando. "Fields sees it, waits on it, throws it, has a big arm, but not a lot of anticipation. I just don't know that that's the guy they are going to get."

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is the presumptive first pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars and BYU's Zach Wilson is expected to land with the New York Jets at No. 2 as part of a QB-heavy top five. The Niners will then have their choice of the remaining options, led by Jones and Fields.

North Dakota State's Trey Lance is the other quarterback who's been mentioned as a potential top-10 pick as part of the loaded quarterback class.

Shanahan hasn't tipped his hand since the team made a trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire the third overall selection in late March.

"To move up to three, we had to feel good there'd be three guys we'd feel comfortable leading our team for a long time," he told reporters after the deal. "There's a chance to get there with four or five. There's five guys at are kind of at this party."

While the sources who spoke with The Athletic believe the Niners are pretty locked into Jones, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora talked with others who aren't convinced.

"I don't buy it," an AFC executive said. "I think it's Fields at three."

An NFC exec added: "I don't know one way or the other, but I have a hard time seeing Mac Jones as the third player in this draft."

So with the top two picks pretty much set in stone, the intrigue of the draft really begins with the Niners, and their decision could have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the first round.

The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals both have their quarterbacks for 2021 in Matt Ryan and Joe Burrow, respectively. While the Falcons may eye the heir apparent to Ryan, they could also demand a cache of future picks from a team looking to move up for a signal-caller. The Bengals' pick may also be in play depending on what happens at Nos. 3-4 in the order.

Whether it's Jones, Fields or Lance, the 49ers' trade up sets the stage for the team to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo at some point over the next year, and where he'll land will become a hot-button topic coming out of the draft.