QB-shopping 49ers will split pro-day duties between Alabama and Ohio State

Mar 28, 2021 at 7:44 PM--

Both Alabama and Ohio State will hold their pro days on Tuesday, March 30. Both have top quarterback prospects entering the draft in Mac Jones and Justin Fields. Both players are considered candidates for the San Francisco 49ers, who last week surrendered several future draft picks to move from the No. 12 slot to No. 3 overall.

With both pro days scheduled for the same day, the 49ers will split duties, per Peter King of NBC Sports. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are scheduled to attend Alabama's workout to watch Jones. Assistant general manager Adam Peters and a delegation of staff will attend Ohio State's to watch Fields.

"Not sure I would infer huge meaning to that, but it could be significant," wrote King in his latest Football Morning in America feature. "How I view it: Jones could be the leader, but it's not over."

Trevor Lawrence of Clemson and Zach Wilson of BYU are expected to be the top two picks when the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off in a month. That scenario would leave San Francisco with its choice of top prospects, and it will likely come down to Trey Lance of North Dakota State, who has already had his pro day, Fields, or Jones. While Lance and Fields are seen as better prospects because of their higher ceiling and athleticism, Jones is considered by some to be more NFL-ready right now.

There is a chance that the 49ers know what head coach Robert Saleh, San Francisco's former defensive coordinator, and the New York Jets are planning to do at No. 2, which would mean they felt good enough about the remaining prospects to make the blockbuster trade.

It's hard to imagine that San Francisco gave up so much to move up to select Jones, leaving many analysts to believe that Lance or Fields are the targets. However, because of the immediate fit and comparisons to Kirk Cousins, no one is ready to dismiss Jones as a possibility. There was also a report that the 49ers were willing to trade up anywhere into the top five spots but opted to move as high as possible to ensure they get their guy.

"There is a cadre of evaluators who do not think Jones is a great quarterback for 2021 football because he's not mobile like a Lance or Wilson," wrote King. "Maybe those evaluators are wrong. We'll find out soon enough. But if San Francisco picks Jones, the upshot will be stark. For a team to spend three first-round picks on Mac Jones will be the story to watch out of the 2021 draft."

Lynch and Shanahan are scheduled to speak with reporters on Monday before heading to Tuscaloosa. Although, it is unlikely they reveal too much about their draft strategy. It is more likely that several of the questions focus around the future of current starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who stands to be the biggest loser from the trade up.

"The 49ers have played very nice with Garoppolo since the end of the season, with GM John Lynch saying several times Garoppolo is their guy," added King. "Well, there's a cost for going cold down the stretch of the Super Bowl season, and for missing 23 of the 48 regular-season games over the past three years. The cost is drafting a man likely to beat him out. The Niners are no longer willing to let a quarterback injury ruin their season."

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