Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Peter King mocks Mac Jones to 49ers, won’t be surprised if price drops for Jimmy Garoppolo

Apr 26, 2021 at 4:18 AM--

Longtime NFL reporter Peter King posted his first and only mock draft of the season Monday morning, and in it, he guessed the San Francisco 49ers will use their first-round pick on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones -- and that it also wouldn't be a surprise if they decided to trade current quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the days ahead for less than the first-round pick they were originally reported to be seeking.

King included his mock draft in his weekly Pro Football in America column, which was posted by Pro Football Talk early Monday morning. After projecting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick 1 and BYU quarterback Zach Wilson to the New York Jets at pick 2, King gave Jones to the 49ers at pick 3, saying Jones is "the accurate coach-on-the-field type" head coach Kyle Shanahan craves while adding that Shanahan and general manager John Lynch won't be bothered in the slightest if that pick is greeted with the expected healthy round of criticism.

"GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan—with contracts that run through 2024 and 2025, respectively—do not care," wrote King. "They have not cared about public sentiment since taking these jobs, and this is their fifth draft. In their first, 2017, I was in the room as it happened, and these were the top three players on the board: 1 Myles Garrett, 2 Solomon Thomas, 3 Reuben Foster. With the third pick, they were sure to get one of those. But Foster? Really? No one had him that high. Lynch: 'Had Solomon been gone, we'd have taken Foster. And been happy.' My point: Shanahan and Lynch won't care what order the draftniks have the quarterbacks, or any position."

King also included a handful of possible draft trades in his column that wouldn't surprise him if they came to fruition, among them the Falcons attempting to move Julio Jones and the 49ers deciding to find someone to take Garoppolo. These moves felt more like possibilities to keep an eye out for rather than reports or predictions, but King felt the 49ers could decide now is the time to move Garoppolo rather than waiting it out for another season.

"It won't surprise me if the Niners make Jimmy Garoppolo more available than he's been," wrote King. "In other words, instead of trying to get a first-round pick for him, maybe considering taking a two for him. I wonder if the Patriots would deal the 46th pick in the draft, or their second-rounder in 2022, for their old friend."

It's certainly expected that the 49ers will move on from Garoppolo at some point, but everything they've said publicly up until now suggests they plan to keep him around through 2021 while their new quarterback takes a year to develop. 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters in March that team owner Jed York gave the go-ahead to keep Garoppolo on the payroll even after the team swapped two future first-round picks to move up to select a quarterback in the draft.

"We went to ownership, said, 'Hey, things are looking good,'" Lynch said. "'We'd like to make this move, but we also don't want to say goodbye to Jimmy. We think with Jimmy, we've shown we can get to a Super Bowl with him. We can play at a high level. And we don't think those two things have to be mutually exclusive.'"

Lynch could be asked to re-clarify Garoppolo's situation during his pre-draft press conference later today (12:30 p.m. PT). In the meantime, it'll be one more storyline to keep an eye on in what will be a historic draft for the 49ers.

But one thing King thinks won't happen on Thursday night is a whole lot of movement among the top ten draft picks. That will disappoint any fan tuning in with hopes of seeing early-draft drama, but thanks to the 49ers, King feels things could be quiet on the trade front in the early going Thursday night.

"Trades near the top of the draft could be limited this year," wrote King. "'The 49ers ruined the market by trading two ones to move nine spots,' one GM said ...I won't be surprised if there are no trades in the top 10."

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