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The 49ers know they’re planning on drafting a quarterback with the No. 3 pick on Thursday — but which quarterback appears to still be in doubt. Or at least the NFL wants you to think.
When they initially traded up for the No. 3 overall pick in a late March trade with the Dolphins, rumors of their surprising interest in Alabama’s Mac Jones spread. There have been a lot of rumors since, but nothing definitive on their choice.
However, as North Dakota State alum Trey Lance continues to make a late case for himself in the heavy quarterback race, the 49ers are reportedly intrigued by the high-IQ 20-year-old.
“As much as the 49ers love Mac Jones, and they do, I believe that the gap between Mac Jones and the other QBs like Trey Lance has been narrowed considerably,” NFL insider Adam Schefter said on “Get Up!” Thursday. “I can tell you over the weekend they did not know who they were going to take.”
Reports surfaced earlier this week the choice was between Jones and Lance, with Ohio State star Justin Fields apparently out of the running.
Though, Schefter said the 49ers came to a “consensus” the day before the draft on who they plan to take. Pro Football Talk reported on Thursday that the league is pressing the 49ers to keep the decision quiet in order to add intrigue to the draft.
It is pretty much a guarantee that the Jaguars are taking Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 and the Jets going Zach Wilson at No. 2. The 49ers’ decision will have ramifications for the rest of the night.
According to Schefter, Lance is considered the “smartest” quarterback in the draft, which is what slowed San Francisco’s decision after initially leaning Jones.
Lance — who started just 17 college games at NDSU — has been cautiously viewed by teams over his lack of experience throwing against top competition, which some fear could limit his NFL potential.
On Tuesday, Lance addressed the criticism head-on.
“I get to prove people wrong again. So that’s what I’ll continue to do and I want to continue to do,” he said on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.”
“The project TV label is definitely a thing, and I think whether it’s playing FCS football or whatever, I think Carson [Wentz] is a great example of someone who came in from FCS football, level of competition and all those things that people talked about with him, he came in and played really, really well as a rookie. So I think that’s a huge thing for me and my process.”
Meanwhile, Jones is coming off a stellar 2020 season at Alabama, in which he threw for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns to help the Crimson Tide win the national championship.
The 49ners are hoping to breathe some life into the team after a quiet 2020 season that was riddled with injuries. They finished last in the NFC West with a 6-10 record.
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