The San Francisco 49ers pulled off a blockbuster trade last month to move into the No. 3 overall spot in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft last month, with many presuming their intention was to select a quarterback.
Apparently, the franchise is weighing several options leading up to its selection on Thursday (April 29) night.
ESPN reports the 49ers are considering all five of the top-rated quarterbacks -- Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (the unanimous projected No. 1 overall pick), BYU's Zach Wilson, Alabama's Mac Jones, North Dakota State'sTrey Lance, and Ohio State's Justin Fields -- and have yet to make a decision with round one set to take place in two days.
During a media session on Monday (April 26), head coach Kyle Shanahan said the team was already comfortable picking between its top three options and could "get there" with Nos. 4 and 5, without revealing who they were.
"We knew that there was three at the time," Shanahan said. "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."
The Niners will likely have their options limited before their selection as the Jacksonville Jaguars have publicly expressed interest in drafting Lawrence No. 1 overall and the New York Jets are expected to also take a quarterback -- most presuming Wilson -- at No. 2 overall.
Last month, NBC Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms led speculation that Jones would be targeted by the Niners after acquiring the No. 3 pick from the Miami Dolphins.
"49ers-Dolphins...[head coach] Kyle Shanahan trying to control his own fate. You trade up to 3 for a QB who is NFL-ready right now, not a project. And to me that says Mac Jones," Simms tweeted following the announcement of the trade Friday afternoon.
The 49ers' blockbuster with the Dolphins was reported to have "major ramifications" in the NFL quarterback market, despite the team claiming it's keen on keeping Jimmy Garoppolo on its roster.
Shanahan wouldn't commit to Garoppolo during Monday's press conference, although he also refused to commit to anyone.
“I can’t guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive on Sunday, so I can’t guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday,” Shanahan said via Pro Football Talk.
ESPN'sAdam Schefter reported last month that the 49ers were "now square in the QB mix" and "traded up because they're good with the options that will be" at the top of the draft, "but are holding on to Jimmy Garoppolo and have no plans to trade him, per sources."
NFL Network's Steve Wyche reports 49ers general manager John Lynch told Garoppolo, "Yes we decided to go ahead and do this, once it was finalized the first thing we did was call Jimmy Garoppolo to let him know he's still in our plans," via NFL reporter Dov Kleiman.
But teams have publicly endorsed incumbent starters amid big transactions involving others in the past only to later deal them elsewhere.
It's also worth noting that Simms and Shanahan are close friends dating back to their collegiate careers at the University of Texas in relation to Simms reporting the team's interest in Jones.
Jones led Alabama to a College Football National Championship and was third in the Heisman voting -- behind teammate DeVonta Smith and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the projected No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft -- during his lone season as Alabama's full-time starting quarterback.
Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and four interceptions on 311 of 402 passing -- while also recording one rushing touchdown -- while leading the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record in 2020.
Jones also made four starts in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa following a season-ending injury in 2019.