Robert Franklin-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Franklin-USA TODAY Sports

McShay: Mac Jones won’t start over Jimmy Garoppolo Week 1 if 49ers draft him

Apr 1, 2021 at 10:00 AM--

The argument for Mac Jones over some other quarterback prospects at No. 3 overall is that the former Alabama player might be among the most ready to step in and play. Some feel that Justin Fields of Ohio State or Trey Lance of North Dakota State could benefit from sitting and learning for a year. Much of that has to do with the system within which Jones played last year.

Fields and Lance are viewed as having higher ceilings than Jones, though. They may be better long-term prospects.

ESPN's Todd McShay released his latest mock draft and has the San Francisco 49ers selecting Jones with their top pick. That isn't a popular option for fans, who would much prefer Fields or Lance, especially if the plan is to keep Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster for another season. Having the veteran remain with the team gives San Francisco the luxury of allowing a rookie to sit and learn while still chasing a championship.

Plus, it's hard to imagine San Francisco giving up so much draft capital for a player who might have been there at a lower spot—maybe even at the team's original draft slot of No. 12.

If things go as McShay predicts, don't expect Jones—or any other rookie—to be the Week 1 starter despite being a top-three pick. The job belongs to Garoppolo until someone proves he can execute head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense better.

"I think they plan on starting Jimmy Garoppolo early in the season and developing whichever quarterback it is," McShay said Thursday morning on ESPN's Get Up! "Both Mac Jones and Trey Lance only started 17 games in college, so there's going to be a learning curve for these guys.

"Now, Mac Jones did it in the SEC versus Trey Lance, who played in the FCS at North Dakota State. But Mac Jones, from an intelligence standpoint, sitting down and talking to him multiple times this year, I've been blown away by what he can take in.

"In the first week of the season (former Alabama offensive coordinator), Steve Sarkisian told us, against Missouri, as we prepared for that game, 'Mac Jones just has to stay in his lane. We're not going to ask too much of him.' The second game that we did, he was saying, 'Well, he's really developing, and he's becoming a real asset for us.'

"The third game we did, late in the season, he said, 'I've installed more with Mac Jones than I have with any college quarterback.' And if you go look at Steve Sarkisian and his history in college football, that says a lot about what Mac Jones was able to process and improve upon within one season as a full-time starter."

Jones (6-3, 214) ended up helping guide the Crimson Tide to a National Championship while completing 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

For those growing tired of hearing about the Jones-to-49ers speculation, it could be a long few weeks.

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