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2021 Mock Draft Monday 8.0: Final QB Projections Before Round 1

Since the close of the regular season, national pundits quickly turned their attention to how the San Francisco 49ers can rebound from their 2020 campaign through the draft. We've seen an array of prospects pinned to the 49ers over the past several weeks, however, their projected course drastically changed following last month's trade to third-overall.

With all signs pointing to a quarterback with San Francisco's first pick in the draft, media members have had several weeks to narrow down which prospect is the most likely pick at No. 3.

With just several days until we find out the direction John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan take on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, here is the final installment of the 49ers Mock Draft Monday.

Patrick Walker, CBS Sports: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

"It feels like all of the Mac Jones talk is smoke and mirrors, which would clear the way for the 49ers to surprise everyone and instead grab Fields -- the Ohio State dynamo who can do it all."

Vinnie Iyer, QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"Jones would seem to fit best the traits of what Kyle Shanahan wants in a quarterback, including accuracy, smarts and quick decision-making. Jones has underrated athleticism, too. He also brings the physical and mental toughness John Lynch likes. For them, Jones' high floor comes with a little less risk than the developmental Lance or the boom-or-bust Fields."

Chad Reuter, QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"It's easy to see why 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would appreciate Jones' efficiency, intelligence and decision-making. However, I don't think the 49ers' choice is that clear-cut. Trey Lance and Justin Fields are both just as capable of operating an NFL offense and both possess plus athleticism. This decision may go down to the wire."

Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

"While the markets are finally leaning back in Fields' direction, I believe this has been the play all along. Kyle Shanahan's offense is always excellent, but it hit another level two times: 2012 with Washington and 2016 with the Falcons. That 2012 team featured a rookie Robert Griffin III being used effectively in the designed run game with play action coming off it, and that may be what Shanahan is looking to do to further elevate his creative offense.

"Fields has two straight seasons with 90.0-plus PFF grades, and he ranked fourth with a 92.2 passing grade last year to go with the top rushing grade at 85.3. He has the accuracy to hit the open throws created by Shanahan's offense; it's just a matter of getting the ball out of his hands faster, given that his 3.11 seconds from snap to release was the second-slowest in the class.

"Expect Shanahan to try to hit a home run after moving up to No. 3, and Fields is the swing-for-the-fences candidate out of the next trio of signal-callers."

Peter King, Pro Football Talk: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"Hearing it's a two-horse race with Trey Lance. Quite a few of the experts will faint if this pick happens, and then outrage will ensue, and how-could-they-pass-on-Fields-and-Lance hot takes will flood the earth. GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan—with contracts that run through 2024 and 2025, respectively—do not care. They have not cared about public sentiment since taking these jobs, and this is their fifth draft. In their first, 2017, I was in the room as it happened, and these were the top three players on the board: 1. Myles Garrett, 2. Solomon Thomas, 3. Reuben Foster. With the third pick, they were sure to get one of those. But Foster? Really? No one had him that high. Lynch: 'Had Solomon been gone, we'd have taken Foster. And been happy.' My point: Shanahan and Lynch won't care what order the draftniks have the quarterbacks, or any position.

"Shanahan believes Jones is the accurate coach-on-the-field type he craves. As one coach in QB-prospecting mode told me this spring: 'Jones has elite NFL traits. He's a natural thrower, is technically very sound, very accurate and throws a catchable ball. His base and mechanics are excellent.' He's not the athlete a Lance or Fields is, but he doesn't have feet of stone. I'll be fascinated—we all will—if Jones is the pick. And I can see it happening."

Rhett Lewis, QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"People have been in their feelings on this one ever since 49ers GM John Lynch traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 overall during Zach Wilson's pro day workout -- which Daniel Jeremiah and I were covering live. Buzz started to build moments after the trade that the move was for a QB, but not Trey Lance or Justin Fields. Rather, the buzz suggested it would be Jones heading to San Francisco as the third passer off the board. Make no mistake: Mac is a first-round quarterback, and whether he's taken at No. 3 or 30 matters very little if he becomes the Niners' starter for the next 15 years. However, to make this trade and this pick, you have to view Jones as an immediate upgrade to Jimmy Garoppolo because this roster is ready to compete for a championship again in 2021."

Peter Schrager, QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"We're less than two weeks away and I'm still feeling Mac Jones is the guy. I'm told the 49ers still have not made a decision and continue to do their work on all three quarterback prospects who would be available: Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. Jones had one of the greatest college football seasons we've seen in recent years, and pro scouts like him a lot -- even if the pundits do not."

Ben Solak, The Draft Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

"Last week, I had the Niners taking Justin Fields here. This week, it's Trey Lance.

"I'm confident the pick isn't Mac Jones. Sometimes, sourcing is good and NFL leaks are helpful. At other times, they run directly against common sense. It is difficult to overstate how nonsensical it would be to trade multiple first-round picks, with Jimmy Garoppolo still under contract, to draft Mac Jones.

"Even if you think he's a football genius—as some evidently do—the whole point of the Shanahan offense is that it can synthesize an effective passing game without an elite processor at the helm. While improved decision-making and risk management would help the Niners offense (the Mac Jones route), improved arm talent and playmaking are far more desperately needed.

"As such, this is Fields or Lance. My heart still says Fields, but the streets say Lance. I'll take Lance for now but may change this by Wednesday. No matter which of the two falls beyond this pick, however, I'll have them landing in the same spot as I do in this mock draft."

Johnathan Jones, CBS Sports: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"Folks around the league I talk to are convinced it's Jones to the Niners. Would I trade that to move up for him? No. But San Francisco believes."

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

"We have no idea what happens here, but Kyle Shanahan was at his best when he was calling plays for Matt Ryan. That doesn't mean he isn't having visions of doing even more with a talent like Trey Lance or Justin Fields, we just don't know because the 49ers have been tight-lipped about their intentions."

Eric Eager, Pro Football Focus: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

"The debate was not between Justin Fields and Mac Jones; it was between Lawrence, Wilson and Fields. Fields could have been the first or second pick and it would have been more than defensible. He is a better athlete than Wilson and Lawrence, and his 80.8% on-target throw rate was better than both.

"Instead of listening to unsubstantiated reports about his lack of work ethic, the 49ers would be wise to let his 92.9 PFF grade with broken ribs against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal do the talking."

Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

"I still don't think this pick will be Mac Jones, but I am having reservations about it being Fields. It seems as though the league really loves Lance, and with the plan to keep Garoppolo for next season, it's a perfect Lance situation."

Jaime Eisner, The Draft Network: QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State

"I could honestly be talked into any of the three remaining top quarterbacks here. This pick *should* be Justin Fields, but there's too much smoke around the other two options potentially being 'their guy.'

"With time to develop, Lance appears to be a solid fit for the 49ers' offense— possibly a better fit than even Wilson. The NDSU offense ran plenty of similar concepts, and Lance's ability to successfully execute play-action rollouts at a high level with proper technique will be a humongous plus for him in this offense. His excellent arm strength, mostly-consistent ball placement (some mechanical improvements are needed here for him to solidify this aspect of his game), and overall poise/leadership are just a few things 49ers fans can look forward to if Lance is selected."

Final Tally

  • Jones - 7
  • Fields - 3
  • Lance - 3