What a difference a week makes. Over the past seven days, the NFL opened the legal negotiating window for players with expiring contracts and kicked off the start of the new league year, where we saw the movement (and retaining) of a number of free agents around the league. The San Francisco 49ers were small players in free agency, however, their moves were significant in safeguarding key talent in critical positions on the roster.
By filling (or re-filling) key holes on the roster, national pundits have recast their projections to what San Francisco could do with the No. 12 overall pick following the first wave of free agency.
As 49ers.com continues the bi-weekly roundup of mock draft projections, here's what media analysts forecast the 49ers to do heading into Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lance Zierlien, NFL.com: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
- TRADE: 49ers move back two spots in the draft and swap picks with the Minnesota Vikings at No. 14.
"This is a win for the 49ers. They trade back, add draft capital and still land a talented young cornerback who fits their defense."
Vinnie Iyer, SportingNews.com: QB Mac Jones, Alabama
"The 49ers haven't indicated they are moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo in 2021, but they still have an easy out from his contract this year and next to make the change for a younger QB with higher upside and winning pedigree who can handle all the mental and physical aspects of their diverse, balanced offense. Jones' strong pocket passing, quick decision-making and ample athleticism should have great appeal to Kyle Shanahan as a long-term solution. He has Matt Ryan MVP-like potential in the scheme."
Emory Hunt, CBS Sports: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
"This should almost be illegal for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to get his hands on the talented and athletic passer from BYU. Wilson would be an ideal fit in this scheme and brings much upside."
Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
- TRADE: 49ers move up five spots in the draft and swaps picks with the Detroit Lions at No. 7.
"The 49ers have to make a move with Fields falling, and the rebuilding Lions are fine drifting back in Round 1."
Josh Edwards, CBS Sports: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
"Kyle Shanahan knows there is a ceiling on his offense. By bringing in Trey Lance, he adds more mobility and even more versatility to play designs."
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: QB Zach Wilson, BYU
- TRADE: 49ers move up six spots in the draft and swap picks with the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 6.
"This is the first time in a long time we've had Zach Wilson falling out of the No. 2 pick, but he doesn't stay on the board long; the 49ers trade up from No. 12 to get Wilson, who had an outstanding 2020 campaign and improved his draft stock from second-tier draft prospect to top-10 pick."
Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
- TRADE: 49ers move up eight spots in the draft and swap picks with the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4.
"The 49ers give up a future first and some change to get their guy. The pick not only represents a possible upgrade, but it also clears $23.6 million in cap space from Jimmy Garoppolo's contract that the 49ers could use after the Trent Williams deal."
Dalton Miller, Pro Football Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
- TRADE: Atlanta Falcons receive pick No. 12, pick No. 43, 2022 San Francisco 1st, 2022 San Francisco 2nd. San Francisco receives pick No. 4.
"The 49ers weren't the only team looking to move up for the 2020 FCS National Championship-winning quarterback. However, the trade compensation from San Francisco gave the Falcons more eventual darts for the draft dartboard. Because of Matt Ryan's expensive contract, there was no other way.
"This fit is perfect for Trey Lance, who comes from a run and play-action-heavy scheme at NDSU. Lance might have more upside than any of the quarterbacks in this class given his physical profile, but his ideal situation allowed for clean and easy looks often. With less than 20 games of college football experience, going to Kyle Shanahan and having the opportunity to sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo is another ideal situation for this young man."
Matt Williamson, Pro Football Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
"As was the case with Denver in this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Niners have to grab the quarterback prospect that oozes with ability in Trey Lance. He could conceivably sit a year while Kyle Shanahan creates all kinds of ways to design San Francisco's offense around Lance for 2022."
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network: CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
"The 49ers appear set to lose Richard Sherman, but they did manage to bring back Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley this offseason. That shouldn't be enough to prevent them from landing a physically gifted stand out in Caleb Farley. Remember: there's no such thing as too many cornerbacks. And San Francisco doesn't have a lot of depth; the team putting a lot of faith in Verrett to stay healthy for a second-consecutive season feels like an unnecessary risk to take. The team bought themselves flexibility by retaining Trent Williams and signing Alex Mack, so keeping the attention on defense makes a lot of sense."
Joe Marino, The Draft Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
- TRADE:49ers acquire Atlanta Falcons 2021 1st (No. 4); Falcons acquire 49ers 2021 1st (No. 12), 2nd (No. 43), 2022 1st, 2022 4th.
"San Francisco should feel great about the roster returning in 2021, especially when considering that it includes a healthy George Kittle and Nick Bosa. What's not exciting is the direction of the most important position on the team—quarterback. The 49ers are at the point where it makes sense to make an aggressive move to secure an exciting new direction at quarterback and Lance provides that. He is a dual-threat quarterback that has a beautiful deep ball and is outstanding in the play-action game. He can help the San Francisco offense become more dynamic and put more stress on defenses with the options his skill set brings to the table."