Trotter: 49ers traded up to evaluate Trey Lance, Justin Fields; Mac Jones was a ‘safety net’

May 1, 2021 at 9:35 AM--


Jim Trotter took a look inside the San Francisco 49ers' month-long draft evaluation process that ended this week with the selection of Trey Lance of North Dakota State at No. 3 overall. Since March 26, when the Niners traded a haul of draft capital to the Miami Dolphins to move up, rampant speculation surrounded the team's target. It made for great ratings, I suppose.

For a long time, Mac Jones of Alabama was seen as the most likely candidate to be headed to the Bay Area. Not necessarily by fans, but by the many analysts and media members with blue checkmarks by their names on Twitter.

That left fans infuriated. Jones was not a popular option. Both Lance and Justin Fields of Ohio State were favored over the Alabama quarterback.

In the end, it wasn't Jones. It was Lance. Maybe it was never Jones.

That's not to say that head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch didn't like Jones. They did. But, according to Jim Trotter of NFL Media, the Alabama product wasn't the reason the 49ers traded up.

"[T]he 49ers made the trade so they could do deep dives on Lance and Fields and be confident of getting either, if that's where the evaluation process took them," Trotter wrote in a feature for NFL.com. "Jones was considered a safety net, if you will, someone they could win a title with but not necessarily a transcendent talent, because he lacks the mobility to consistently turn off-schedule plays into something positive. Jones had the higher floor, but Lance and Fields were thought to have the higher ceilings, which is important because of how the league is progressing."

Fields ended up being selected by the Chicago Bears at No. 11, and Jones dropped to the New England Patriots at No. 15.

"I feel like secretly, I really wanted to go to the Patriots all along," Jones said after being passed up by the 49ers and landing in Foxborough. "So, I'm actually really happy that happened."

It looks like it worked out for everyone, then.





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