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The San Francisco 49ers were said to be “locked in” on Mac Jones for the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but Justin Fields is erasing that perception very quickly.
After the Ohio State star quarterback’s second pro day, where key 49ers leadership was in attendance, rumors and oddsmakers are suggesting Fields may be the new favorite to land in San Francisco over Jones.
KOA Colorado insider Benjamin Allbright reported on Thursday that the buzz of a Fields-49ers connection is intensifying:
Perhaps just as significant is the drastic line movement among players who are favored to be drafted No. 3 overall.
Jones was the huge favorite, but suddenly, he finds himself underdog to Fields at DraftKings, according to 4for4 Football lead betting analyst Connor Allen:
Read More: NFL GM believes Justin Fields could be better than Trevor Lawrence
Why it makes sense for 49ers to draft Justin Fields over Mac Jones
Based on San Francisco’s publicly stated plan to retain incumbent signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo and target a QB after trading up from 12th to third in the first-round draft order, why wouldn’t Fields be the pick?\
Jones offers a similar skill set to what Garoppolo does. When he’s not under duress, he can be accurate to all areas of the field, has an NFL-caliber arm that isn’t transcendent, and is a decent but not special athlete.
If the 49ers are trying to move away from Jimmy G’s shortcomings, there’s no better prospect to select than Fields. He’s a dual-threat dynamo, who’s been hyped and scrutinized to an incredible degree since he was a 5-star recruit, always compared against the generational talent that is Trevor Lawrence.
Fields has poise when facing pressure, and the speed and evasiveness to avoid it. He can make plays outside the pocket better than Jones can, and is more than capable from a football IQ standpoint of handling the complexities of San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan’s intricate offensive schemes.
By drafting Fields, whose skill set isn’t so similar to Garoppolo’s, it’d make more sense to fully commit to the latter until he proves he can’t get it done. From 2022 and on, Shanahan can evolve his already-incredible offense around Fields’ superior, higher-upside skill set.
Sacrificing two additional first-round picks to move up for a quarterback would be hard for 49ers fans to stomach if it’s for such a similar player — albeit perhaps a better version — to Garoppolo in Jones. In Fields, the 49ers would be getting a unicorn of an athlete who’s a special thrower of the football and could truly lift the franchise into consistent championship contention.
Read More: 2021 NFL mock draft: QBs dominate top-10 picks, big trades