The 2021 NFL Draft is just a few days away, and for fans of the San Francisco 49ers, it can’t come soon enough. Ever since the team traded for the No, 3 pick on March 26, there has been intense, and immense, speculation on who the pick will be. We know it’s going to be a quarterback, but it’s the question of which quarterback that has 49ers fans fired up.
On Monday, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media via Zoom to talk all things Draft…well, at least all the things they were willing to talk about.
To Mac or Not to Mac? That is the Question.
All signs point to quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson going first and second, respectively. Therefore, conventional wisdom makes the three next best QBs in the draft Alabama’s Mac Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. For Shanahan, each man has the ability to be a successful QB1.
“[W]hen we made this decision, we knew that there were five guys that…we felt that we’d be okay with taking,” Shanahan said. “…[G]oing through this whole process, I feel good about five guys at three…I think every candidate has gotten stronger…So, do we know exactly who we want? Maybe, probably, but maybe not. I don’t feel like we need to say that, and that’s not just for our case, but lots of stuff happens between now and the draft and we don’t want the whole league knowing exactly what you’re set on four days before the draft. We also care about a lot of people that have been involved in this and we got to know a lot of people and stuff and those are the types of questions, like narrowing it down or who’s been eliminated or things like that, that one, I don’t know if I want the league to know. I don’t think it necessarily helps and that’s why no one’s really going to know whether we know or not until we pick. That’s kind of what we’re comfortable keeping it at.”
For weeks now, the word has been that Jones is the 49ers’ favorite. The fan base has other thoughts.
“…Everyone’s excited to draft a quarterback,” Shanahan said “If you would have been excited about one of these guys at 12, then you should be excited at three…Let us go through the process. We’re going to get a good one. Yeah, I wish I could take that anxiety away from people, but that’s because people get excited…We’re going to add a quarterback to our team this year…I hope it’s the one you want, but we’ll see. Basically, whoever you want that day, make that judgment later. Let’s see how they help our team out.”
In other words 49ers fans, trust the process.
“…[G]going through this process, it really has been fun,” Lynch said. “I think it is a special class of quarterbacks…They’re really some exceptional people that I think are going to do really well in our league…[O]ur charge is to go and not worry about the anxiety of our fans, and hopefully, that there’s some trust there. What I can tell you is that it has been an extremely thorough process…We have the third pick and typically, number three picks at quarterback, they’re going to teams that aren’t that good. I think our roster is pretty good. We’ve got to stay healthy. There’s a lot of things that have to happen, but I think our roster is pretty healthy in terms of the talent and so I think it can be a really exciting environment for who we decide on to come in and play when they’re ready to play.”
Social media has been working overtime when it comes to this pick, and Lynch and Shanahan understand why. That being said, they have a job to do.
“We love our fans,” Lynch said. “We think we have the greatest fans. The Faithful, they’re incredible whether we’re here, whether on the road, and I think they’re a very intelligent fan base as well. They understand football. They have great expectations, high expectations of championship teams and so do we, and so that inspires us. I think our job is to make the right decision. We’ve been charged with making the right decision for this football club and that’s what Kyle and I always set out to do, is do our best…The draft is mine, but I told Kyle from the beginning that this is, he and I are doing this together. When it comes to quarterbacks…I will always defer to him. What’s cool about that is that Kyle, I think, respects my opinion enough. He always wants it, and ultimately, we arrive at decisions we will, and come Thursday, we’ll have a pick that hopefully makes everyone proud, but that will be judged in years to come. We’ve done our best to make sure that it’s a great decision for this franchise.”
Shanahan is getting input wherever he goes, whether he wants it or not.
“…. I would love to make everyone happy,” Shanahan said. “Everyone wants to do that. I’ve been in this league long enough though, that you do have to block that stuff out…I do go to restaurants. I do go to my kid’s soccer games. Every single person, whether it’s a ref, an umpire, another parent, everyone has a strong opinion and most people let me know. Every one of my friends, trust me, most of them are just texting my wife now because they know they don’t get a response back…”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) April 26, 2021
Later Shanahan said: “…What I can promise people that you have two people who make sure we don’t get involved in that, because that is so irresponsible to let something like that affect your decision. We do this for a living and I think people should be proud of us that we won’t let that affect our decision. Then it’s up to us to live with the consequences.”
And Then There’s Jimmy Garoppolo
“Jimmy’s been a pro,” Lynch said. “He really has. I just spoke to him over the weekend and he’s here. He’s taking part in our virtual meetings, plans on being at the workouts. And, Jimmy has been completely professional as he always has been with us…”
Injures have been the biggest issue with Garoppolo. He’s had major injuries in two out of his three years as the starter, and it’s set the team back.
“…[T]hat’s where it starts and Jimmy knows that,” Shanahan said. “I’ve been very upfront with him with everything…I feel very fortunate taking a rookie quarterback that we do have a guy like Jimmy. That we didn’t sign a guy who’s capable or has the history of being a starter right away, but we have a guy who, every time he’s been a starter, he’s played at a high level. So, to have that with Jimmy while adding a rookie quarterback, gives us a lot of leeway into this. We’re not going to set anything in stone, but I know that’s a situation that it would be hard to get rid of. I mean, when you take a rookie quarterback and you have a veteran like Jimmy, who we know we can win with, just to move on from that is something that—it’s not easy to do. That is a good situation for us, and I think that’s something that will be important to us this year.”
That being said, Garoppolo’s future with the team is the definition of uncertain.
"I can't guarantee that anyone in the world will be alive Sunday, so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster Sunday." Kyle Shanahan when asked if it's a guarantee that Jimmy Garoppolo will be on the #49ers roster Sunday
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) April 26, 2021
And with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers take…see you Thursday.
One More Note
Lynch said the 49ers will pick up offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey’s fifth-year option/