Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Was Kyle Shanahan right about Mac Jones and how will passing on him affect the 49ers?

Oct 17, 2021 at 10:22 PM--

When the San Francisco 49ers traded first round picks in 2022 and 2023, and a third round pick in 2022, to Miami for the third selection in the 2021 NFL draft, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch committed their legacy and San Francisco's future to a quarterback, and multiple reputable sources insisted it would be Mac Jones. Was Kyle Shanahan right in wanting Mac Jones and how will passing on him, and instead selecting Trey Lance, affect the aforementioned legacy and future of the 49ers?

Did Shanahan 'acquiesce' to passing on Mac?

When Adam Schefter announced the blockbuster trade on April 6, he said it would have "massive ramifications for years to come and initially said the Niners did it with no specific quarterback in mind. Soon thereafter, however, he confidently reported that San Francisco was going to select Mac Jones, and Todd McShay wrote that Kyle Shanahan wanted to draft Jones and the 49ers personnel department pushed for Lance, but that Shanahan might 'acquiesce' to the scouting department.

Similarly, our pre-draft analysis concluded that Shanahan preferred pocket passers like Jones over mobile quarterbacks like Lance or Fields, and we were surprised when San Francisco chose Lance. Just last month, Schefter doubled down on San Francisco having made the move, in part, due to concern that the Patriots would leapfrog them to draft Mac Jones, again asserting that Mac Jones was on the mind when they mortgaged the future for the now.

Is Mac Jones better than Trey Lance?

It has been a small sample size, and Lance has not been given much of a chance to play, but Mac Jones is far and away the best quarterback of this rookie class, clearly more pro ready then Trey Lance with the ability to put his team in a position to win in the NFL.

Prior to Week 6, Jimmy Garoppolo had a QBR of 51.0, Mac Jones' had 50.9 and Trey Lance is at 39.9. Garoppolo has a completion percentage of 67.2, Jones' is 71.8 and Lance's is 52.1. It's still early and Niners fans who did not want Mac Jones might be right in promising that Trey Lance has more upside, but the eye test and the numbers suggest that Mac Jones could be a better quarterback than Trey Lance.

How will passing on Jones and selecting Lance affect the 49ers?

If it's true that Shanahan wanted Jones and committed his future with Jones in mind, and possible that someone in the front office talked him out of it to draft Lance, are we starting to see Kyle Shanahan show frustration and a lack of trust in Trey Lance and would it be such a crazy idea that seeing Mac Jones' play so far compared to Lance's could be adding to the frustration?

Analysts have opined that Shanahan hasn't trusted in Lance's ability enough to operate his normal offense, or even spend time developing him, and instead opted to employ an offense similar to one he used at North Dakota State. But what works in college doesn't always work in the NFL and could get someone hurt, if not chronic, traumatic encephalopathy.

Kyle Shanahan denied a report that Lance could not win the starting job but did confirm that Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter as long as he's healthy, and firmly sticking with Jimmy does not dispel the notion that he doesn't trust Trey Lance's ability to win games.

It's certainly early and things could change significantly in the careers of both Trey Lance and Mac Jones, and Trey could end up developing and outclassing Jones, but imagine not trusting the quarterback you mortgaged the future for? Even if Shanahan is not salty at all about passing on Jones and drafting Lance and even if Shanahan is optimistic about Lance's potential, if Jones ends up as significantly better than Lance as he appears right now, it will have massive ramifications for years to come.


  • Who would you rather have as your quarterback of the future?
  • Trey Lance
  • Mac Jones

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