Denny Medley/Argus Leader-USA TODAY

Denny Medley/Argus Leader-USA TODAY

49ers draft: Analyst believes Kyle Shanahan’s decision has come down to Mac Jones vs. Trey Lance

Apr 25, 2021 at 9:31 AM--

Field Yates of ESPN reported today that the San Francisco 49ers have finalized their decision on who to draft at No. 3 overall.

"I'm told the work is done in Santa Clara," said Yates. "They have wrapped up their draft meetings officially. They're ready to make this pick, but it's in the hands of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch."

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The two will meet with reporters — virtually, of course — tomorrow. It is unlikely that we leave the meeting with any more of a clue who the head coach and general manager duo plan to select, but we shall see.

NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline wrote a nice piece for Pro Football Network and believes the decision has come down to Mac Jones of Alabama or Trey Lance of North Dakota State. He doesn't mention the other candidate, Justin Fields of Ohio State, which would indicate that the analyst feels the former Buckeye may no longer be a contender — if he ever was.

Pauline also notes that Shanahan is driving the draft decision, which should not come as a surprise. Shortly after the 49ers made the trade, rumors circulated that Shanahan had his sights set on someone in particular.

What does the analyst think about Jones and Lance?

"In Jones, Shanahan is getting the consummate field general — someone who sees the battle before the opponent comes into view," wrote Pauline. "Jones' command and leadership of his offense in 2020 were second to none compared to the top quarterbacks in this year's draft. His accuracy and pass placement was spot on all year. And while he had great talent around him, Jones never flinched."

Pauline does note some weaknesses in Jones, such as falling short of other prospects when it comes to arm strength, athleticism, and mobility.

"Lance is another who did a great job processing information on the field and making proper decisions, albeit in 2019," wrote Pauline. "He's an intelligent quarterback who acquits himself well in interviews. And the truth is, his size, athleticism, and arm strength are light years ahead of Jones'."

While both are relatively inexperienced, Jones played against better collegiate competition, and Lance has appeared on just one game — a non-conference matchup — since the 2019 season.

With strengths and weaknesses for both, it really comes down to what Shanahan is more comfortable with when it comes to the two prospects. San Francisco traded away a lot to move up to the No. 3 spot, including multiple first-round picks.

Added Pauline: "Would a team trade away tons of draft capital to move up and select, A) a quarterback (Jones) who is physically deficient compared to the top of the board at the position or B) a signal-caller in Lance you may need to redshirt for most if not all of 2021?"

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