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For the first time in his 27-plus years as ESPN’s draft expert, Mel Kiper Jr. has thrown a wrinkle into his mock drafts; he’s incorporated trades. It’s not a novel concept, but one Kiper said he’s stayed away from because it’s too difficult to predict.
Kiper’s reasoning for changing now? “This quarterback class is too good,” he wrote. Keep in mind he said back in 2010 he’d retire if Jimmy Clausen was not a successful NFL quarterback.
That said, Kiper’s mock draft has the 49ers moving up for their quarterback of the future: Justin Fields.
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) February 25, 2021
The 49ers move up to the Detroit Lions’ spot at No. 7 after Trevor Lawrence goes No. 1 and Zach Wilson goes No. 2 to Atlanta in a trade where the Jets drop back to No. 4 and take tight end Kyle Pitts.
His expectation for compensation is that the Lions get No. 12, No. 43 and a future pick from the 49ers, potentially their 2022 first-rounder. Why Fields?
“This is a pick that raises the 49ers’ ceiling. When they went to the Super Bowl in 2019, they were led by a stellar running game and defense that could both rush the passer and create turnovers. It didn’t appear that coach Kyle Shanahan fully trusted Jimmy Garoppolo to win playoff games with his arm. I’d love to see Fields play for Shanahan, who could get the best out of him. If this deal happens, San Francisco could designate Garoppolo as a post-June 1 release and save $25 million on its cap this year. That would help offset the lost draft picks in the trade because the team would have some money to spend in free agency — and bring back left tackle Trent Williams. The 49ers were really hurt by injuries last season, but they should be back in the NFC West race in 2021.”