NFL rumors: Justin Fields as 49ers' QB has some support around league

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Josh Schrock
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Report: Faction around NFL think Fields is 49ers' QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Mac Jones would appear to be the leader in the clubhouse to be the 49ers' selection at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

However, there are those around the league who reportedly believe coach Kyle Shanahan will go in a different direction.

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"As people around the league who know Kyle Shanahan attempt to decipher what is going through his mind with that third overall pick now in his possession," NFL Media's Mike Silver said Friday. "There's definitely a faction that believes Justin Fields should be or will be his guy, that the athleticism and the play-making on the big stage combined might allow Kyle to take his offense to another dimension. ... I think it's settled in Kyle's mind, but those who are attempting to read his mind, there are plenty of Justin Fields advocates out there."

Up until December, Fields was thought of as the unquestioned No. 2 quarterback in this class. Unfounded criticisms surrounding his work ethic and processing speed -- two racist tropes Black QBs have fought for decades -- have led to his slide down some draft boards.

But if you turn on the tape, Fields' talent is clear. He has an elite arm, is the most accurate quarterback in the class and has the top-level athleticism that would allow the 49ers to use him in the QB run game and give them a signal-caller with the ability to make second-reaction throws from outside the pocket.

For those who believe Fields is a "one-read quarterback," the Ohio State signal-caller threw past his first read on 19 percent of throws last season, the most of any QB in the class. And Fields was the most accurate of any QB in the class on second-read throws.

RELATED: Fields fits what Shanahan likes in dual-threat QBs

As for Fields' rocket arm, one stat, in particular, shows how the Buckeyes star can rip it. Per ESPN Stats and Info, on out routes from 15-to-20 yards, Fields completed 64.4 percent of his passes with an off-target percentage of only 4.4 percent on such throws. The average off-target percentage at the Division 1 level is 22 percent on those throws. That's a critical throw in the NFL, as it showcases a quarterback's ability to throw the ball accurately with zip.

Most signs still point to Jones being Shanahan's guy. But it is smokescreen season, so don't be shocked if Fields is the one donning the awful 49ers' 2021 NFL Draft hat on April 29.

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