John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were tired of their starting quarterback missing games.
And when he did play, they were tired of seeing bigger, stronger, faster quarterbacks beat him.
So they decided to do something about it.
The 49ers took control of their own destiny when they traded three first-round picks for the No. 3 overall selection in April’s draft. There, as one could have easily surmised but Shanahan and Lynch openly admitted Monday during a press conference, they will take a quarterback.
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And no, it’s not a smokescreen. Take off your tin-foil hat.
“We were hoping to get a younger guy in here eventually,” Shanahan said. “This year… we felt we had a chance to do it.”
“We needed to come out with the quarterback position being stronger this year,” Lynch said. “And I think we’ve put ourselves in [position] to make that happen with this move.”
That’s no small thing. This is the kind of big, bold move that defines a regime.
If they don’t select the right player, Shanahan or Lynch — or both — will lose their jobs as a repercussion.
If they select the right quarterback, this team will be a Super Bowl contender in the next few years and for years beyond that.
The most recent winner of the Super Bowl, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, has a saying: “No risk it, no biscuit.”
The Niners are risking it.
Remember: San Francisco could have been content with what they currently have — a quarterback who has won games, but doesn’t have the trust of the organization. They could have traded for Kirk Cousins.
But being close to winning a title isn’t good enough. Not around here, at least.
So instead, they’re risking it all and taking out a second and third mortgage on a kid who will likely be the third quarterback selected in the draft.
“I feel pretty strongly that we were going to get left at the altar sitting there at 12,” Shanahan said. So they made the move that took out most variables, moving up nine spots.
They’re all-in. They want the biscuit, both now and in the future.
And it was impossible to ignore how comfortable Lynch and Shanahan seemed to be with that status. It seemed as if they were downright reveling in the opportunity Monday. And if that was coming through on Zoom, they must have been beaming in the room.
As a fan, what more could you want from the folks that run your team?
If they can’t be bold when the stakes are high, what’s the point of being in charge?
(I also can’t help but laugh at the juxtaposition of Lynch and Shanahan’s unity with past regimes in Santa Clara. My, how times have changed.)
All of this leads us to the big question: Which quarterback will the Niners take in one month?
Who is going to be the player that determines these men’s fate?
The Niners’ brass didn’t tip their hand in any serious manner Monday. That’s not surprising considering that they were able to pull off this trade without a precursing leak.
But if you wanted to dive deep between the lines with me, I don’t think it’s presumptuous to say that the Niners would prefer either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance if the draft goes as expected (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence No. 1 to Jacksonville, BYU’s Zach Wilson to the Jets at No. 2).
Forget the Cousins prototype — that’s all conjecture. While Shanahan said you want a quarterback who can make throws from the pocket, his ideal quarterback adds much more:
“You want an elite player,” Shanahan said. “If you can get a guy who’s elite with his arm, and could play in that pocket and do her everything, and still run around and make off-schedule plays. That’s what you’ve seen with Mahomes. You know, and that’s, I mean, everybody wants something like that”
“If you’re going to draw it up, you’re going to draw the biggest, fastest, strongest, and the best quarterback in the pocket.”
So while Shanahan and Lynch will be heading to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday to see Mac Jones throw at a second Alabama Pro Day, you can likely cross him off the list. At No. 3, the Niners will still be in a position to draft someone like the guy they would “draw up”, and, for all his positive traits, Jones, a pocket quarterback with marginal mobility, isn’t that quarterback.
As for Fields, who also has a Tuesday Pro Day — leading to speculation that the Niners, by the nature of their plans, preferred the Alabama quarterback — Shanahan said that the Niners will get a second opportunity to see the Ohio State quarterback throw.
“I’m excited to see him eventually in person,” Shanahan said. “But also got a lot of tape to go off, too. I know he’s gonna throw it really good in person and be really fast in person, also.”
Read into that what you will — the Niners have no problem with that now. They don’t need to worry about smokescreens, hand-tipping, or clandestine operations anymore now. They’re in control.