Weeks after trading up, the 49ers apparently still don’t know what they’re doing at No. 3

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Mike Florio
·2 min read
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The first big mystery of the draft comes at No. 3, when the 49ers will choose between Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and quarterback Trey Lance. There’s another mystery that may linger for months if not years thereafter.

When and how was the pick between Jones and Lance made? Was Jones the initial target, with Lance emerging later? Did coach Kyle Shanahan want Jones, and was he outnumbered and/or outmaneuvered by others in the organization for Lance?

In 2017, Shanahan didn’t take a close look at the incoming quarterback class (which featured Patrick Mahomes) because Shanahan believed the 49ers would sign Kirk Cousins the next year in free agency. Something caused Shanahan — who initially was “in mourning” over the implosion of the Cousins plan — to accept a Garoppolo trade.

Most believe Shanahan calls the shots in San Francisco. But Shanahan also is smart enough to realize the value of keeping the peace, and of listening to those around him. He relented on Garoppolo, who took the 49ers to a Super Bowl. Will Shanahan relent on Lance, if it’s true that Shanahan wants Jones and others in the building want Lance?

It’s also possible that some in the 49ers organization are staking out a future game of I told you so, in the event Jones bombs with the 49ers and Lance becomes a star elsewhere. When it comes to Jones, plenty of people around the league don’t get it. But there’s a difference between being a great quarterback and being a great quarterback in Shanahan’s offense. Jones ostensibly is the latter.

If the pro-Lance forces win, things could get very interesting for Jones, who’d likely slide at least to No. 8 (Panthers), unless someone trades up for him, like the Patriots. If the pro-Jones movement prevails, an apples-to-apples comparison to Lance will be made until we know which, if either, pans out.

Regardless, the 49ers still need to resolve a question most assumed they’d answered before they gave up so much to get in position to use the third overall pick in the draft. Three days from now, they need to choose one or the other. Then, they’ll spend the next three years or longer wondering whether they made the right choice.

Weeks after trading up, the 49ers apparently still don’t know what they’re doing at No. 3 originally appeared on Pro Football Talk