Chris Simms and Kyle Shanahan both grew up around the NFL, attended the University of Texas and have tattoos of each other's initials. So when Simms makes a prediction about what the San Francisco 49ers head coach might be thinking, your ears perk up a bit.
Shortly after the 49ers completed a major deal with the Miami Dolphins that allowed them to move up from pick No. 12 to pick No. 3, speculation began on what player - and probably quarterback - the 49ers planned to take. Simms' thought process was different than most:
To be clear, this is of note because Simms may be familiar generally with what Shanahan wants out of a quarterback. There's no suggestion here that Simms actually knows, but his educated guess is probably of more interest than most.
In our latest RADIO.COM Sports NFL Mock Draft, Trevor Lawrence goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the top pick, with BYU's Zach Wilson landing with the New York Jets a pick later. That would leave Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Jones as the other projected first-round quarterbacks still on the board at No. 3.
ESPN's Adam Schefter says that the 49ers have no plans to trade incumbent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. That's all well and good, maybe they will hold onto him and have him open the season as the starting quarterback. Or maybe this is just posturing to attempt to increase his trade value. The bottom line is that you don't move up in the fashion that the 49ers did for a position other than quarterback.
You may, however, move up for a quarterback with tremendous upside that you aren't sure will be ready to play in Week 1. Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt, now with NFL Media, says that valuations of Fields are all over the place throughout the league, and that he believes the 49ers made this move with the intention of drafting Lance. Lance had a dominant 2019 season for North Dakota State and there is a ton of excitement about his potential ceiling, though he's thin on actual game experience. In San Francisco, he could open the season as Garoppolo's backup, and potentially remain that for the entirety of his rookie season. Then again, if Garoppolo slips up or gets injured, it would open the door for Lance.
Jones is perhaps the most difficult player in this draft to evaluate. He guided one of the greatest teams in collegiate history to a National Championship victory this past season, but did so with three potential first-round picks (Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris) as skill-position weapons. After an underwhelming rookie season from Tua Tagovailoa, you're left to think twice about any Alabama quarterback moving forward.
That said, there are some around the sport that are especially high on Jones. Simms, who famously wasn't as keen as others on Tagovailoa last year, believes Jones is the third-best quarterback in the 2021 class. Former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum has said that he doesn't think Jones will make it beyond the Carolina Panthers at No. 8, and that was before the 49ers jumped into the picture in earnest.
Others, though, aren't nearly as high on Jones. The Draft Network ranks him as the 63rd best prospect overall in the 2021 class. NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah has Jones graded as the 34th best prospect available at any position this year. So it's safe to assume that if the 49ers do use the No. 3 overall pick on Jones, there will be quite a few who pan it.
One thing is for sure - the 49ers jumping up to No. 3 made the quarterback discussion in the 2021 NFL Draft even more interesting than it already was.