There probably won’t be too much drama when it comes to the first two picks in the NFL Draft this year, but there definitely should be some suspense when the 49ers are on the clock with the third-overall pick and that’s because no one seems to know what San Francisco is going to do.
Even oddsmakers are in the dark. Two days ago, former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones was the odds on favorite to be the pick, but less than 48 hours later, that honor now belongs to Justin Fields. Here at CBSSports.com, our draft gurus are split on what the 49ers will do. In our four weekly mock drafts, we have two writers who think the 49ers will take Jones and two who think the pick will be Fields.
If you’re wondering why you should listen to the 10-time Pro Bowler, it’s because he’s very familiar with Kyle Shanahan, who once served as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator. Although Thomas and Shanahan only spent one year together, they were close enough that the offensive lineman made sure to mention Shanahan during his retirement speech in March 2018.
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During Shanahan’s lone season running the Browns offense in 2014, Cleveland used a total of three starting quarterbacks (Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw), so Thomas got a first-hand look at what kind of quarterback Shanahan likes to have.
Thomas has a thorough understanding of Shanahan’s offense and actually liked the design of it so much that he once said it was his “favorite offense” he’s ever played in, which is a high compliment coming from a guy who played for NINE different offensive coordinators during his 11-year career.
Basically, Thomas knows exactly how Shanahan’s offense is supposed to work and his opinion seems to be that Fields is the quarterback in this year’s draft who is best-suited to run it.
If the 49ers are interested in Fields, they’re definitely not trying to hide it. Not only did Shanahan attend Fields’ pro day on Wednesday, but he was seen chatting with the former Ohio State quarterback. On the other hand, maybe we shouldn’t read too much into that. With exactly two weeks to go until the start of the draft, we’re in the heart of smokescreen season when even the smokescreens can be smokescreens and a head coach talking to a prospect during a pro day could certainly qualify as a smokescreen.
No matter what happens, it seems almost certain that the 49ers will take a quarterback with their pick, so don’t look for a surprise there. The team sent shockwaves through the NFL last month when it decided to pull off a monstrous trade with the Dolphins to land the No. 3-overall pick in the draft. To move up nine spots in the first round of the draft, the 49ers had to send the No. 12-overall pick to the Dolphins along with a first-round pick in 2022, a third-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023 and it’s unlikely they would have been willing to give up all of that unless they were planning to take a QB.