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49ers Rumors: SF 'Relishing' Attention Surrounding No. 3 Pick in 2021 NFL Draft

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch prior to an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly enjoying the fact that nobody is quite sure who they will select with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft on Thursday night.

According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, one source said the Niners are "relishing" the attention that comes along with the uncertainty surrounding their status.

It is widely assumed that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence first overall followed by the New York Jets selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson second overall. That would leave the 49ers with a choice between quarterbacks Mac Jones of Alabama, Trey Lance of North Dakota State and Justin Fields of Ohio State.

Florio noted that the 49ers, who traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 with the Miami Dolphins, may have a pick in mind right now but could still change their decision between now and draft night.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan divulged Monday that the 49ers like each of the top five quarterback prospects in the 2021 draft class entering Thursday's first round.

Per ESPN's Nick Wagoner, Shanahan said:

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"We knew that there was three at the time [of the trade with Miami]. That's why we thought [No.] 3 was a good spot to go to. After going through this whole process, I felt good about five guys at [No.] 3. Yeah, we had a guy probably at first back then, but we knew that wasn't set in stone.

"And we knew the only way we could figure out a little bit more, especially when you can't work out guys, you can't meet with these people, there's a lot of things you can't do this year. The only way we could go off that is if we got closer to where we could do a little more in-depth thing that we didn't have to hide. We did. In that time, I think every candidate has gotten stronger. And yeah, we probably started with one in mind, but that one has gotten better since and so have all the other candidates."

General manager John Lynch said he and Shanahan will make the decision together but that he will ultimately "defer" to Shanahan.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport (h/t NFL.com's Jelani Scott) reported Monday the 49ers have narrowed their choices to Jones or Lance at No. 3 based on the assumption that Lawrence and Wilson will be gone.

Jones was considered a lower-end first-rounder entering the draft process, but he has seemingly shot up the boards, and the 49ers have been viewed as a top suitor since they attended his pro day.

In addition to being perhaps the most NFL-ready of any quarterback in the draft, Jones is coming off a highly productive season at Alabama, as he completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated record and a national championship.

Lance is more raw, and he only played one showcase game last season because the FCS didn't play fall football. There is no denying what he accomplished in 2019, though, albeit against a far lower level of competition than what Jones faced during his time at Alabama.

Lance completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and no interceptions, plus he rushed for 1,100 yards and 14 scores. The Bison also went undefeated and won an FCS national title.

The 49ers will have the luxury of allowing whoever they pick to sit and learn behind veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo for perhaps as much as an entire season before taking the reins. Because of that, they may be more willing to roll the dice on a player with a higher ceiling like Lance rather than Jones.

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