Round 1, Pick 3 – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Ever since the 49ers made their huge move up to the third pick in the blockbuster deal, the name most consistently linked with San Francisco has been Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Jones is seen as the obvious fit for the Shanahan offense because of his similarities to Kirk Cousins. Shanahan spoke openly about his affinity for Cousins in a recent media conference following the trade with the Dolphins but while doing so he also dismissed the notion that Cousins is the archetype of what he is looking for at the quarterback position.
That is not to say Shanahan isn’t interested in Jones. But it is jumping the gun to assume he is the target of the trade because of Shanahan’s fondness for Cousins, as the evidence from their respective collegiate careers indicates Fields is much more worthy of the price the 49ers paid for their nine-pick jump.
Jones would be an upgrade of Jimmy Garoppolo. He is a better athlete whose ability to process and accuracy to all three levels would improve the 49er offense. Yet his inability to create out of structure would continually limit the ceiling of one of the league’s most dynamic attacks.
There would be no such restrictions with Fields. The Buckeye star’s deep-ball accuracy is more consistent than that of Jones while Fields can also deliver with remarkable velocity and placement when throwing on the move. Add in the speed and elusiveness he displays in the open field as a runner, and Fields has the skill set to take the 49er offense to heights San Francisco could only dream of were Jones to be the pick.
Comfortable operating in the pocket, evading pressure, and resetting his feet, Fields is everything Shanahan should be looking for in a modern-day quarterback who can run his offense. Most of the noise right now surrounds Jones, but there is a strong chance that will prove to be hot air come draft night.