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Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY NETWORK

Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY NETWORK


My case for the 49ers to draft Justin Fields

Apr 5, 2021 at 10:00 AM


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When the San Francisco 49ers were drafting at No. 12, there was a lot of speculation about which quarterback might fall and who that might be. The only quarterback who seemed to have a chance to fall to twelve was Mac Jones. However, the 49ers aren't selecting at twelve anymore because they took a huge swing and traded three first rounds picks to move up to pick at No. 3. This means there will likely be three of the consensus top-five quarterback prospects still on the board.

This is my case for Justin Fields.

Fields is a unique specimen at the quarterback position. Everyone on Twitter wants to pigeonhole Fields into a "type" of quarterback and what he could become in Shanahan's offense. Some say he's a runner who can also throw. Others say he's a slow processor who only throws to his first read. I'll make this easy for everyone. Don't try to label him. Justin Fields is a quarterback first, who displays extreme toughness and might be the most athletic person on the football field as well.

Measurables
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 227 lbs.
Hand: 9 ⅛
Arm: 32 4/8

If someone had to pick one trait that is the most important in Kyle Shanahan's offense, it is that the quarterback needs to be accurate. Fields is extremely accurate at all three levels of the field. In 2020, he posted an impressive 69.9% completion percentage, which followed his 2019 campaign of 66.8%. These numbers are even more impressive, considering he did it against the toughest defenses faced by the top five quarterback prospects. His completion percentage also wasn't the result of a bunch of screens, RPOs, shallow crossers, etc. Fields was never afraid to push the ball down the field, with 66 20+ yard attempts and a 51% completion percentage on those throws. Fields showed off that arm during his Pro Day, repeatedly completing passes 50+ yards down the field. His Pro Day performance alone might have been impressive enough to make him the #3 overall pick.

The possibility of adding Justin Fields to the 49ers' yards after the catch (YAC) attack could eventually lead to historic offensive numbers. During Fields' tenure at Ohio State, the majority of his passing yards came before the catch. In that vein, in 2020, 70% of his passing yards came before the catch (air yards). This impressive number was almost as good as Fields' 2019 season, during which 72% of his passing yards were air yards. In comparison, during the 49ers' 2019 Super Bowl run, Jimmy Garrapolo only had 46% of his passing yards before the catch and still was only 22 yards shy of throwing for 4,000 yards. In additional comparisons, Zach Wilson (62%), Trey Lance (54% - 2019), Mac Jones (47%), and Trevor Lawrence (43%) each had markedly lower percentages of their passing yards before the catch. Adding Fields' downfield passing to the already potent and athletic YAC Attack could take Kyle Shanahan's offense to an elite level.

If you listened to Kyle Shanahan in his latest press conference, you might have heard him say, "You want an elite player, and of course, if you can get a guy who is elite with his arm and can play in that pocket and do everything and still run around and make off-schedule plays. I mean, that's what you've seen with [Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick] Mahomes." Kyle is looking for an elite thrower of the football and an elite athlete. Justin Fields is that guy. Fields posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and that speed shows up on tape as well; his first touchdown at Ohio State came on an untouched, 51-yard run against Florida Atlantic University. He has playmaking ability with his arm and his legs.

I have no doubts that Kyle has had "his guy" in his sights for weeks now and will be sprinting to the podium with the No. 3 overall pick. Not only will this player upgrade the most important position in sports, but the 49ers will reset the salary cap at the position as well, allowing the team to keep its talented roster intact for years to come and firmly prop open a Super Bowl window.

The next pick for the 49ers will be the quarterback from Ohio State, Justin Fields.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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