It wouldn’t be NFL Draft rumors season without the type of content NFL reporters Ian Rapoport and Peter King dropped Sunday night.
According to Rapoport’s sources, the 49ers are still taking a quarterback with the third overall pick on Thursday night but have narrowed their options to Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” notebook for Pro Football Talk he is “hearing it’s a two-horse race” with Jones and Lance.
Their sources, therefore, are saying that the Niners have eliminated Ohio State’s Justin Fields after having watched him work out 10 days earlier and seen him execute drills they asked him to run, same as they reportedly asked of Lance. And they may have asked Fields to set up under center the way coach Kyle Shanahan prefers, too.
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Before anyone screams into the void that Shanahan and Niners GM John Lynch are stupid for this, consider how Rapoport worded his tweet. It has about as many qualifiers as the expanded NBA playoffs.
As the #49ers close in on their decision of which QB to take at No. 3, sources say they are down to two prospects — and the belief is those two are #Bama QB Mac Jones and #NDSU QB Trey Lance. Several sources say the focus does appear to have shifted to those two.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 26, 2021
Jones was the first name floated onto the web after the Niners traded up to No. 3 with the Dolphins, so maybe the Niners really are going in that direction. But clauses like “The belief is” and “the focus does appear to have shifted” leave open the possibility that this is not coming from inside the building.
The use of just “sources,” rather than “team sources” or “sources with direct knowledge,” adds doubt about this being a first-hand leak. Maybe this information did come from the Niners and the team wants absolute plausible deniability. Maybe it came from other teams spreading disinformation or bad information. Maybe it came from agents who were doing the same.
But there is one other argument for it coming from within: King dropped “in the room as it happened” to point out that he saw the 49ers’ draft board in 2017 when Lynch traded down from second to third and the Bears moved up to draft Mitchell Trubisky. San Francisco took Solomon Thomas, who was No. 2 on the team’s board. That’s a pretty big flex. Maybe the info pipeline is flowing from Santa Clara.
Or not. Only the San Francisco bosses know for certain. The media and public are left to try to parse rumors that were floated on a Sunday night.