Nearly everyone knows about the aggressive move made by the San Francisco 49ers last month.  In a deal with Miami, the pre-draft trade moved the Niners from #12 to #3 for the 12th pick, 2022 and 2023 first round selections, and a 2022 third-round compensatory pick.  Despite the monstrous maneuver, current mock drafts and analysts remain heavily divided on who will be selected with the third pick.  Even the Vegas odds are changing faster than a newborn’s parent can change a messy diaper.  Yet, days away from the 49ers 2021 NFL Draft and the decision appears up in the air.

Heading into last weekend, the general consensus was that San Francisco would select either Mac Jones (QB – Alabama), Trey Lance (QB – North Dakota State), or Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State).

As we enter the week of the draft, the headlines (and rumors) are swirling, with some speculation stating the decision will come down to either Lance or Jones. 

Kyle Shanahan was recently questioned about the 49ers 2021 NFL Draft and had a variety of things to say.  Among the most notable quotes include:

2021 NFL Draft Hats

This feels like uncommon territory.  Typically, when a blockbuster this big occurs, the draft pick (to follow) is usually quite obvious.  So, who should the 49ers take with the 3rd pick?

Let’s leave all the NFL insider information aside.  Forget the in-depth football analysis.  Personally, I am not sitting in a war room or analyzing all 32 teams.  Instead, to make an educated guess, I’m just going to dumb this down to simple data and a handful of basic assumptions.  This is meant to be put into the simplest form, so please don’t bother attacking my football knowledge.

First, let’s iron out the assumptions:

  • Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are likely to be selected with picks 1 and 2
  • Assume the 49ers love a quarterback this year (as a result of paying a price tag this large)
  • San Francisco will stick to its past scheme and run-heavy offense under Kyle Shanahan
  • All past dialog on Jimmy Garoppolo is either fact or a smokescreen (or a combo deal)

Now, for the additional layers and simple numbers tied to each:

Lawrence and Wilson Will Be Gone

The Jaguars are in need of a quarterback and face of the franchise.  The Jets need the same after trading away Sam Darnold.  Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are widely considered to be the top two picks in the NFL Draft.  That leaves the other three QB’s that many believe could all land in the top ten: Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance.

Top Jimmy Cooks

Jimmy Garoppolo has been mentioned heavily during this chaotic, QB-centric NFL offseason.  Rumors of a return to New England and being a guarantee in San Francisco were among the ideas floated.  The 49ers themselves stated a few months back that Garoppolo was their guy. 

Times change (or maybe they don’t).  The biggest issue with Garoppolo has been durability.  In four seasons with San Francisco, he has played in just 31 games – and that includes 16 in 2019.  Otherwise, take into consideration the following numbers:

  • 67% or higher Completion Percentage in five of his seven NFL seasons
  • 27 passing TD in 2019 – otherwise no more than 7 in any other season
  • Just 141 total rushing yards over seven seasons

Even if the 49ers take a player they believe to be their future franchise quarterback, it doesn’t mean that Jimmy Garoppolo still isn’t their guy in the near term.  He has proven he can win in the NFL.  The key remains staying healthy.

Who knows other than those in the San Francisco war room?  The Niners can say Jimmy is their guy, while also opening the door for someone that needs experience before taking over.  Perhaps someone with less experience in the college ranks?

49ers 2021 NFL Draft: Which of the 3 at 3?

How about the statistical performances of the three QB candidates?  Each had strong college careers, but does one fit statistically with the 49ers?  Here are the numbers from their last full college season:

NOTE (for Mobile Users): Auto-rotate to Landscape view to see full table of data




Mac Jones (2020)

4,500 yards, 41 TD

14 yards, 1 TD

Justin Fields (2020)

2,100 yards, 22 TD

383 yards, 5 TD

Trey Lance (2019)

2,786 yards, 28 TD

1,100 yards, 14 TD

Scheme Francisco

Without diving into the specifics of San Francisco’s offensive scheme, let’s just look at the top level data over the last four seasons under Kyle Shanahan:

NOTE (for Mobile Users): Auto-rotate to Landscape view to see full table of data

Season (W-L)

Passing Rank (YPG)

Rushing Rank (YPG)

Pass Attempts

Rush Attempts

2017 (6-10)

9th (245.3)

10th (103.9)

4th (37.9)

22nd (25.5)

2018 (4-12)

15th (241.7)

12th (118.9)

20th (33.2)

11th (26.4)

2019 (13-3)

21st (220.7)

2nd (153.5)

31st (28.2)

2nd (32.1)

2020 (6-10)

13th (252.1)

15th (118.1)

16th (35.6)

14th (27.3)

What Stands Out?

Upon combing through some simple high-level data, there are a few trends that stand out:

  • QB stability helps and Jimmy Garoppolo’s best season was his only healthy one (2019)
  • San Francisco was 13-3 during that same 2019 season, when they had a healthy quarterback and a lot of depth in its running game
  • During Shanahan’s only winning season, San Francisco was 2nd in rushing yards and attempts
  • Injuries on both sides of the ball derailed this team in 2020 (and forced a shift in balance – or a need to pass more, when a depleted defense gave up more points)
  • This is a team with balance when healthy, featuring a strong, physical defense and an offense that wants to run the ball (and smash you in the mouth)
  • One player’s combination of passing and rushing make a lot of sense in this offense – and perhaps the Niners want to add a guy that has more mobility to fit its run-heavy offense

The Pick

So, who will San Francisco select with the 3rd pick?  Should this really be so difficult to figure out? 

On top of the simple comparisons made, Trey Lance is also considered a quick learner and high-character guy.  He has a strong arm and a throw-first mentality.  He’s also not afraid to run the ball and knock you in the teeth.  Sure, it was the FCS level, but he posted a thousand-yard rushing season during a year when he also threw zero interceptions.

By drafting Lance, the Niners could hold onto Garoppolo for at least another season, which is in line with past comments about his status.  Current dialog indicates an open competition and that’s consistent with what most coaches do.  So, one could argue that all this lines up.  Lance would need time to adjust.

This week, it comes down to the mind games of the draft, meshed with the NFL insiders trying to get the real answer to this difficult question.

For the 49ers 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance makes sense with the third pick.  As for what happens, we’ll have to wait until Thursday night.


References: TeamRankings, Pro Football Reference,

Thank you for visiting The Wife Hates Sports!


If you enjoy The Wife Hates Sports, you can support my work by buying from Fanatics through my site.  It’s of no additional charge to you.  I simply get a cut of any Fanatics sale purchased through links here.  That goes for any Fanatics Experience ad within posts or via the banners on the home page.