The 49ers wound up selecting North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and Jones fell to the Patriots at No. 15 overall. The Chicago Bears traded up from No. 20 to No. 11 overall to take Ohio State QB Justin Fields.
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San Francisco wanted its choice of quarterbacks after the Jacksonville Jaguars took Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets drafted BYU’s Zach Wilson, and they didn’t want the Patriots leapfrogging them and take their guy. So, they traded two future first-round picks to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 overall but ultimately passed on Jones, and time will tell if that was the right decision.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has all but said that veteran Jimmy Garoppolo will begin the 2021 season as San Francisco’s starting quarterback while Lance could enter the field in certain packages.
The 49ers were heavily linked to Jones before the 2021 NFL Draft, and NBC Sports’ Peter King theorized in May that it was a smokescreen deployed to drum up more interest in Garoppolo, who was being shopped in trades at the time. The Patriots were linked to Garoppolo at the time and ultimately wound up taking Jones. But if San Francisco was trying to get New England to bite on a trade up to No. 3 overall or for Garoppolo, then they ultimately failed. The Patriots called their bluff, hung back and took their future starter at their original draft slot.
First-round rookie quarterbacks | 2021 preseason
|Player||PFF grade||Accurate pass %||Big-time throw %|
|Trevor Lawrence||78.3 (10th)||58.5% (22nd)||4.5% (t-22nd)|
|Zach Wilson||85.7 (N/A)||64.7% (N/A)||9.1% (N/A)|
|Trey Lance||56.7 (46th)||47.4% (48th)||4.5% (t-22nd)|
|Justin Fields||67.6 (20th)||38.3% (59th)||5.7% (t-13th)|
|Mac Jones||92.2 (2nd)||70.8% (3rd)||6.9% (7th)|
Jones beat out Cam Newton for the Patriots’ starting quarterback job. He’s one of three rookie quarterbacks, along with Lawrence and Wilson, who will start Week 1.