Former NFL quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms, who is close friends with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, believes Mac Jones’ name will be called with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday night.
Simms says there is no single element of the Alabama quarterback that produces head-turning plays, but there are fewer holes to poke in Jones than just about any other quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“There’s nothing not to like,” Simms said on 49ers Talk. “That’s what I’m going to say to 49ers fans. Hey, do you like Drew Brees? Do you like Matt Ryan? Those kinds of quarterbacks? That’s what Mac Jones is.
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“He’s better than them coming out (of college). So who knows what he can be in the future?”
Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are expected to be the top two picks of the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets on Thursday evening.
The 49ers have spent the past month evaluating Jones, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. The 49ers moved up from No. 12 to No. 3 to select the quarterback to ultimately replace Jimmy Garoppolo.
“People (ask), ‘What’s so elite about Mac Jones?’” Simms said. “And I say, ‘Easy: The way he plays the quarterback position is elite.’”
San Francisco 49ers
Simms described Jones as the most accurate passer and best decision-maker in the draft. He lauded Jones’ ability to go through his reads and deliver the football on target.
One of the knocks on Jones is his arm strength, which clearly lags behind Lance and Jones. Simms says Jones can make all the throws without requiring a lot of room in the pocket to operate.
Jones’ arm strength is comparable -- if not a little better -- than Brees when he was coming out of college, Simms said.
Brees, who recently retired, was a 13-time Pro Bowl player whose 80,358 passing yards is the most in NFL history.
While Simms said he would be “shocked” if the 49ers do not pick Jones, he said he can understand the rationale if the club were to decide on Lance.
“Lance is the safer pick,” Simms said. “Fields has some issues with the mechanics of throwing the football that would scare me. Lance has more consistency in his throwing motion.
“I’d see the logic in drafting Trey Lance. I understand that. With Shanahan, as good as his offense is, to add another element like a Trey Lance running the football and all that, man, that could give defensive coordinators a lot of headaches. No doubt about that.”
Simms acknowledges the elements that Lance could add to Shanahan’s offense could be unique.
But, he added, “What Mac Jones could do with the run scheme and passes off it could be special, also.”