One of the interesting angles in the wake of the 49ers’ selection of Trey Lance third overall is whether the team had interest in Ohio State signal caller Justin Fields. While he was undoubtedly involved in the conversation at some point, it appears the race was down to Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and Lance.
Fields was regarded by some as the second-best quarterback in the class, but he slid all the way down to No. 11 where the Bears traded up to snag him.
The strange thing with the 49ers though is that nothing coming out after the draft indicates they were ever all that interested in Fields, a player Shanahan had previously worked with at a quarterback camp.
Here’s Shanahan on Monday detailing their selection process on the Rich Eisen Show:
“The thing that made us so confident is we got vacation through January, unfortunately. That means you weren’t in the playoffs. So I just went down to a little beach house where I’ve got all my film and just watched quarterbacks for a month,” Shanahan told Eisen. “And to feel the way that I did, especially about Mac (Jones), and then about Trey (Lance), and where we were at. Especially with what happened with (Matthew) Stafford and Deshaun (Watson), we knew early, ‘hey, we gotta be aggressive to make sure we get one.’ Where is that spot? We looked into all the others. We looked into the fourth pick. We looked into the fifth pick. The third one was the one that had the most chance of making a move a month in advance. And I truly believe if wouldn’t have, someone else was going to eventually, and that price was only gonna go up.”
Shanahan later echoed something that he’d said throughout the process that there were five players they were comfortable with at the 12th pick, but they needed to figure out the one they were sold on at No. 3.
NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote in his Football Morning in America column that Shanahan and general manager John Lynch didn’t officially make their decision on Lance until April 19, the day of the QB’s second Pro Day.
Fields’ name didn’t come up in King’s column either.
There was an expectation going in that Fields and Lance were firmly in the mix despite belief from prominent NFL reporters that Jones was presumed to be the pick barring a massive change of heart with Shanahan. All of the fallout since the draft points to Fields being out of the running relatively early.
It’ll be fascinating to see how Fields fares in a good situation in Chicago, and what kind of explanation, if any, Shanahan ever gives for passing on the Ohio State signal caller.
The 2017 draft and the club passing on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes has been relitigated thousands of times. If Lance doesn’t work out and Fields excels in Chicago, this will be something that continues hanging over Shanahan throughout his tenure in San Francisco.