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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Kiper has 49ers trading up for QB, potentially releasing Jimmy Garoppolo in latest mock draft

Feb 25, 2021 at 6:15 AM--

ESPN's Mel Kiper had the San Francisco 49ers selecting cornerback Patrick Surtain II in his first mock draft. His latest mock draft has general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan landing a quarterback with their first selection — the No. 7 overall pick.

That's right. Kiper, who never includes trades in his mock drafts, is doing so for the first time. He included three in his latest first-round mock.

"I've always stayed away because it's impossible to know how teams will maneuver -- and what offers they could get -- but this quarterback class is too good," wrote Kiper.

The first trade within his mock draft has the Atlanta Falcons moving up to No. 2 to select quarterback Zach Wilson of BYU.

San Francisco currently owns the No. 12 overall pick. While Kiper admits it's tough to project the exact details of a trade like this, the analyst estimates it might cost the 49ers' No. 12 pick, their second-rounder (No. 43 overall), and possibly their 2022 first-rounder.

Kiper has the Niners using the selection to add quarterback Justin Fields of Ohio State.

"This is a pick that raises the 49ers' ceiling," explains Kiper. "When they went to the Super Bowl in 2019, they were led by a stellar running game and defense that could both rush the passer and create turnovers. It didn't appear that coach Kyle Shanahan fully trusted Jimmy Garoppolo to win playoff games with his arm. I'd love to see Fields play for Shanahan, who could get the best out of him."

What happens to Jimmy Garoppolo with this move? Does he stay and mentor the young quarterback, or is he traded to make up for the lost draft capital? Kiper predicts neither and goes the Mike Florio route.

"If this deal happens, San Francisco could designate Garoppolo as a post-June 1 release and save $25 million on its cap this year," adds Kiper. "That would help offset the lost draft picks in the trade because the team would have some money to spend in free agency -- and bring back left tackle Trent Williams. The 49ers were really hurt by injuries last season, but they should be back in the NFC West race in 2021."

Fields appeared in eight games with the Buckeyes last season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,100 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding five rushing touchdowns, per Sports Reference. That followed up a 2019 campaign that saw the quarterback throw 41 touchdowns and run for 10 more while throwing just three interceptions.

The third and final trade within Kiper's mock draft has the New England Patriots moving up to No. 9 to select quarterback Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

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