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Kyle Shanahan is finally getting his guy. He and general manager John Lynch spoke Monday for the first time since trading up for the No. 3 overall pick, and all but explicitly stated the obvious: they’re drafting a quarterback.
The move immediately sent the internet’s greatest NFL minds into a frenzy. Justin Fields? Trey Lance? Mac Jones? Could Zach Wilson fall? Are the 49ers in cahoots with the Jets?
One take that has been looming large is that Shanahan, who has long expressed his affection for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, and infamously did not scout Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to a sufficient extent because he expected to be able to sign Cousins, is in love with Mac Jones. Jones, the logic goes, is very similar to Cousins in that he processes the game quickly and delivers the ball on time, where it is supposed to go. His arm strength is just fine, but he lacks any dominant physical traits.
When you look at it from that lens, he’s very Cousins-ey. And if you think that Shanahan is looking for the next Cousins, well, you do the math.
But when asked if the perception that his preferred archetype is Cousins is accurate, Shanahan denied it, albeit after raving about Cousins for nearly a minute.
it's glorious pic.twitter.com/0E556EuV7n
— AJ Fitzgerald (@ajfpart3) March 29, 2021
Shanahan said that “everybody” wants a Patrick Mahomes; someone who has elite arm talent, the ability to play in the pocket and execute off-schedule. While he said there’s significant risk to the draft, Shanahan also out that there’s an abundance of talent coming into the league.
His prerequisite for any quarterback is being able to play in the pocket.
“To say that my prototypical quarterback is Kirk Cousins, that’s just… (proceeds to talk about Kirk Cousins for nearly a minute, regaling the story of how he wanted to sign Cousins, and couldn’t), it’s not because that’s how you draw it up,” Shanahan said. “If you’re going to draw it up, you’re going to draw the biggest, fastest, strongest and best quarterback in the pocket. So I think that’s pretty ridiculous to say that, but I also will tell you I’ve love Kirk. I know I’m not allowed to talk about other players but Kirk’s a hell of a player and a lot of people would be lucky to have a quarterback like that.”
So, what should we make of that? Well, clearly, Kyle still loves Kirk Cousins. But, as he said towards the end of last season, he doesn’t have as rigid of a perspective in evaluating quarterbacks as might be the consensus.
Him pointing to “the biggest, fastest, strongest and best quarterback in the pocket,” and Mahomes, is an indication that yes, Kyle Shanahan, very smart football guy, might just be aware of the fact that it’s easier to win with a quarterback who has elite physical traits along with pocket-passing ability.
This doesn’t indicate who the 49ers are drafting, but it should point to the fact that just because Chris Simms said he expects the 49ers to draft Mac Jones, doesn’t mean it will happen. Shanahan also said he doesn’t tell Simms anything and Simms doesn’t ask because he’s a media member.
Sure, there’s plenty of talk about Jones, but it’s just talk. And while much was made of Shanahan and Lynch going to Jones’ pro day over Fields’, he confirmed that Fields’ agent, David Mulugheta, will set up a second pro day that Shanahan will attend in person.