Months later, there is still intrigue as to the how the top half of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft unfolded in regards to the five quarterbacks drafted in the first 15 overall picks.
A key part of that story was San Francisco trading three first-round picks to move up to the No. 3 overall selection well in advance of the draft.
The 49ers eventually settled on Trey Lance with that pick, after quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson went in the top two spots to Jacksonville and the Jets, respectively.
Now, with the first Sunday of the NFL regular season upon us, ESPN reports that San Francisco’s aggressive, costly trade may have been in part driven by the Patriots.
ESPN, citing league sources, reports that one of the reasons the 49ers traded up was that the organization believed the Patriots might trade up in an effort to secure Mac Jones
“But the 49ers also were concerned that the Patriots would leapfrog them in the draft and position themselves to select Jones before San Francisco could,” ESPN writes. “The 49ers considered the well-documented relationship between Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, and knew that New England was doing legwork on the quarterback prospects in the draft. The Niners also believed at the time that Jones was the prospect the Patriots identified as their potential quarterback of the future.”
After San Francisco eventually settled on Lance at No. 3, New England ended standing pat at No. 15 overall get Jones.
Jones won a QB competition with incumbent Cam Newton this summer, leading to the former MVP being released at the end of training camp.
Jones will make his first NFL start on Sunday evening at Gillette Stadium against the Dolphins.