Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan says league trends don’t guide his quarterback preference

Apr 26, 2021 at 3:17 PM--

Are the 49ers looking to follow in the footsteps of the rest of the league and add a multidimensional quarterback like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen to their roster? Not necessarily, based on what 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

With the 49ers set to add a quarterback with the third overall pick in this week's NFL Draft and a contrast in styles expected to be available to them in perceived pocket passer Mac Jones along with higher-athleticism candidates in Trey Lance and Justin Fields, there's been some discussion in the past over whether or not the 49ers will choose to follow league trends and emphasize athleticism in their selection. Shanahan addressed that topic during the 49ers' predraft press conference on Monday, saying he doesn't let any single style or league trend play a big role in what he prefers.

"I look at everything," Shanahan said. "I think the whole thing of the success of people like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, DeShaun (Watson), Lamar (Jackson), those guys are unbelievable. They can play the position and they're obviously very, very talented at running around and doing stuff. But those are those guys. You've got to look at a lot of people. There's lots of different ways you can do it.

"I don't look at it in trends of the league. I look at it as there's some special players. There's some special people. I don't care when Drew Brees comes out, whether it's 30 years from now, 30 years ago or today -- Drew's going to be pretty good. So is Philip Rivers. So are all these guys. So is Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes. They would have been good 40 years ago also -- really good. They're going to be good 40 years in the future. You've got to take guys you believe are good enough to do it, whatever way that is. There's lots of ways to do it and people are proving that more and more."

Ideally, Shanahan said, teams will be able to find a quarterback who can offer the complete package. But regardless of what that quarterback's skill set might be, there will always be other factors that come into play.

"You want to find Drew Brees who can move like Lamar Jackson, and Mahomes, he's maybe in the middle," Shanahan said. "Whatever -- I'm not being exact, but there's no 'This is where it's going, this is where it's been.' It'll always evolve... It matters on how you group people together, what your choices are, and how you plan on using that person."

Shanahan was adamant during Monday's press conference that he was a fan of all five of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft, which also presumably includes two quarterbacks expected to be off the board at pick three in Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. The task the 49ers have faced since trading up to pick three hasn't necessarily been to find which of those quarterbacks can bring them the same options as someone like Mahomes or Allen but to simply decide who will be the best fit for their current situation. The league will find out which quarterback the 49ers feel matches that description when they announce their pick sometime after 8 p.m. ET Thursday night.

"To make this so black and white, it's not right. It's who's the best quarterback and why," Shanahan said. "There's lots of different ways, and whatever those whys are, how does that pertain to your offense, what you have, the building you have, and what gives you the best chance to win. That's what was so exciting about this year -- I do see five guys. No one's ever a slam-dunk -- look at the history of this league. But you see five guys capable of being a starting quarterback, and I do, and I see them all a little bit differently. And you've got to decide which way you want to play that."

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