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Former NFL GM Insists 49ers Will Pick Justin Fields No. 3 in 2021 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields runs against Clemson during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Nobody knows what the San Francisco 49ers will do with the No. 3 pick at Thursday's NFL draft, outside of selecting a quarterback. 

Will it be Mac Jones? Trey Lance? Or perhaps Justin Fields?

At least one former general manager believes it will be the latter, despite persistent chatter that Jones is the apple of Kyle Shanahan's eye. 

"Hey, I got a former GM insisting that it's Fields—insisting that it's Fields—which is stunning to me," Mike Florio said on Pro Football Live Tuesday (3:16 mark).

Peter King of Pro Football Talk projected Jones to be the pick for San Francisco in his latest mock draft, though he called it a "two-horse race with Trey Lance."

He continued:

"Shanahan believes Jones is the accurate coach-on-the-field type he craves. As one coach in QB-prospecting mode told me this spring: 'Jones has elite NFL traits. He's a natural thrower, is technically very sound, very accurate and throws a catchable ball. His base and mechanics are excellent.' He's not the athlete a Lance or Fields is, but he doesn't have feet of stone. I'll be fascinated—we all will—if Jones is the pick. And I can see it happening."

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport also reported on Monday that the Niners were deciding between Jones and Lance:

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Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From NFL Now: The #49ers are down to two. What now for SF as they pick between Mac Jones and Trey Lance. https://t.co/KJMS3gPR0F

And ESPN's Todd McShay reported Monday that "many in the 49ers' personnel department have pushed for North Dakota State QB Trey Lance but that coach Kyle Shanahan wants to draft Alabama's Mac Jones. One person I spoke to even heard that Shanahan might 'acquiesce' to the scouting department on the selection, but others have said that seems unlikely."

You will notice, of course, that none of these reports have Fields even in the conversation any longer. 

That doesn't mean that the Niners aren't actually interested in Fields. It could simply mean that all of these reports are a smokescreen meant to disguise their true intentions. Granted, it's not completely clear why a smokescreen would matter all that much for the Niners, with the widely held belief that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are basically locks to be the top two picks and the draft essentially begins with San Francisco. 

Is there really a benefit for San Francisco keeping their cards close to the vest if they have an interest in Fields? Are they scared a team that loves Fields will try to leapfrog them in a trade up to No. 2 with the New York Jets

Maybe, but that scenario feels farfetched. The more likely scenario, at this point, is that the Niners are truly deciding between Jones and Lance. People outside of San Francisco's draft room may believe that Fields should be the pick, but it seems unlikely he actually will be the selection.

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