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San Francisco 49ers’ connection with Justin Fields could be telling heading into NFL Draft

There’s continued talk that the San Francisco 49ers could very well select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft later this month.

By now, it’s well known that San Francisco moved up from the 12th pick to third overall as a way to select an eventual heir apparent to current quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The initial reports of interest in Jones were surprising in that Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Trey Lance from North Dakota State are both widely seen as better pro prospects than the reigning Heisman finalist.

Now set to watch both Fields and Lance perform during second pro day events leading up to the draft, we’re finding out an interesting connection between the 49ers and those two quarterbacks. That comes in the form of former NFL signal caller John Beck, who has worked with Fields over the years and just constructed a relationship with Lance. Beck noted recently that he’s been in contact with the 49ers’ brass, head coach Kyle Shanahan included.

“I have a unique relationship with the folks in that 49ers building because I’ve known them for a while,” Beck said, via Matt Barrows of The Athletic. “So there’s like a big familiarity there. And it’s not just Kyle that I talk to. Adam Peters is a guy that I also talk to. Because they don’t have the opportunity to go to these private workouts, I’m somebody that can give them information. So it’s not just Kyle.”

Beck worked under Shanahan as a backup quarterback with the Washington Football Team in 2010 and 2011. Apparently, he’s continued to have a great relationship with the current San Francisco 49ers head coach. The former BYU star has acted as Justin Fields’ private quarterbacks coach during the pre-draft process and just recently took on Lance as a client.

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Jan 11, 2020; Frisco, Texas, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Trey Lance (5) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the James Madison Dukes at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

More than anything, this seems to be anecdotal. But it’s also important to note that the 49ers’ brass has had ongoing conversations with Beck as he readies Fields and Lance for the draft. That includes having some input when it comes to setting up the unprecedented second pro day workouts for the quarterbacks.

“Knowing that I’ve been around (Fields) the last three months, he’ll reach out and just want to ask questions or talk,” Beck told The Athletic. “And kind of like prod into: What are the things we’re working on, the things that I think having played in his system, having been coached by him, I know how he’s going to coach quarterbacks. I know what he’s looking for. So I think it’s an easy extension of Kyle in terms of the eyes I have for quarterbacks.”

There’s an obvious reason why San Francisco has been linked to Jones since pulling off the blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins to the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s seen as your more traditional pocket passer in the same vein as Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins, two quarterbacks Shanahan has worked with in the past.

Even then, the offensive-minded head coach has made it clear his thought process has changed in recent seasons. Justin Fields seems to be a top-level fit in Shanahan’s system while Trey Lance boasts much more upside than Mac Jones.

This is pretty much the long-form way of saying we have no idea what the San Francisco 49ers are going to do in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, the connection to both Fields and Lance is another interesting backdrop as the brass in Northern California keeps everyone guessing.