Look, I get it. I love Trey Lance. I’m a huge fan of Justin Fields. I think this class truly does have five great quarterback prospects. But Kyle Shanahan wanting Mac Jones isn’t just viable — it’s super smart and logical.
Jones was outstanding in his one full season as Alabama’s starting quarterback, guiding the Crimson Tide to the national championship with a perfect 13-0 record and a staggering average margin of victory of 29.1 points per game. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards (346.2 per game) with 41 touchdowns against just four interceptions. I mean, those are video game numbers. While the athleticism is rightly questioned, Jones’ processing ability and accuracy are on point. He’s a perfect fit in Shanahan’s offense. Remember what this scheme did for Matt Ryan? He won league MVP and nearly (should’ve) won a Super Bowl. Former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told me last month on The Adam Schein Podcast that he sees the similarities between Ryan and Jones. Remember: Dimitroff’s first-ever draft pick in Atlanta was Ryan. And it was a gem. Jones can be that guy for Shanahan and John Lynch in San Francisco. And crucially, he can be that guy immediately.
Jones is ready to step in and rock. Like at ‘Bama, he’d be taking the reins of a team that’s primed to win big. The Niners have a rock-solid offensive line headlined by the best left tackle in the game today, Trent Williams. They have a stud tight end in George Kittle and a diverse group of dynamic receivers. Plus, the loaded defense will be back to form with the healthy return of Nick Bosa. San Francisco’s poised to make noise in 2021 — if the quarterback position’s right. Given Jimmy Garoppolo’s injuries and inconsistency, it’s not hard to imagine Shanahan thinking Jones would give him a better chance to win a Super Bowl going forward. And while Lance absolutely has more upside than Jones, the North Dakota State product needs some time to marinate. Over the past 15 months, Lance has participated in more pro days (2) than games (1).
Despite all the smoke of the past month, I firmly believe Shanahan knows who he wants. You don’t make an aggressive trade up from No. 12 to 3 without knowing. I’ve been saying since the trade that there’s a 70 percent chance it’s Jones, 29 percent chance it’s Lance, 1 percent chance it’s other. But I think Jones is higher than 70 percent today. Because it’s Kyle’s pick. And Kyle’s offense. And Mac Jones can be the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2021, guiding this San Francisco team back to the playoffs. That’s why you make the pick.