Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Silver explains why he believes the 49ers will draft Mac Jones

Apr 23, 2021 at 3:10 PM--

Michael Silver took to Twitter on Friday to share his thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' looming quarterback decision. Last month, the team traded up to the No. 3 overall spot to acquire a future replacement for Jimmy Garoppolo, who has struggled to stay on the field during his time in Santa Clara.

Silver notes that he has been repeatedly asked about the pick and the 49ers' thinking. While it is NFL Network's policy not to "tip picks," he does have some thoughts based on what he has heard from around the league.

Mac Jones of Alabama remains the betting favorite to be the No. 3 overall pick, followed by Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trey Lance of North Dakota State. Despite the lengthy evaluation work that has gone on over the past month, Silver still believes Jones will be San Francisco's pick next week.

"I have not talked to Kyle Shanahan, who will make the ultimate decision, as he should," Silver wrote in the lengthy Twitter thread. "He's got a much envied offensive system and a very specific idea of what kind of QB can thrive in that system, and the Niners just made perhaps their boldest trade in history to get to 3.

"It is my belief that the player the Niners were targeting when they made the trade--under the assumption that Lawrence & Wilson would go 1-2 to the Jags and Jets--was Alabama QB Mac Jones. (Obviously, you only make this move if you also are very high on Lawrence and Wilson).

"Once they made the trade, Shanahan, GM John Lynch & other important decision-makers had the luxury of doing some extra digging. Both Ohio State's Justin Fields & North Dakota St.'s Trey Lance have many attractive qualities, and there's no reason not to continue the process.

"I'd expect, in all likelihood, that Shanahan will stick with his original inclination and won't end up deciding he likes Fields or Lance more than Jones... and that he'll never get a shot at Lawrence or Wilson, who will be off the board."

Despite leading Alabama to a National Championship, many draft analysts consider the quarterback a reach at No. 3. They'll be quick to point towards the perceived higher ceilings in the other two prospects, feeling either might be the better long-term player. However, it's difficult to ignore Jones' 2020 campaign, when he completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.

The NFL Network analyst broke down what is it about Jones that could have Shanahan still willing to pass on Fields and Lance to acquire him.

"Among other things, the Niners believe he has uncanny pocket skills," Silver explained, "especially out of the shotgun formation, and next-level footwork. He can slide in the pocket to either side and react quickly to onrushing defenders, even unblocked ones.

"Jones comes from a tennis-playing family and spent some time on the hardcourt as a kid, and that seems to correlate with the exceptional footwork. He clearly has absorbed a lot of football knowledge, and the synchronization of his throwing motion and footwork is impressive.

"Again, this is not a report; just telling you what I perceive to be going on. Unless and until Kyle proclaims it, there will be enough drama to keep us at least a little on edge until the pick is announced next Thursday night."

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