A new theory has emerged, via Peter King of NBC Sports, regarding the San Francisco 49ers’ efforts to hide their intentions before the 2021 NFL Draft until they selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance third overall.
If we take it a step further, the New England Patriots could also be connected.
The 49ers, up until draft night, were widely expected to draft Mac Jones at No. 3 overall. They instead drafted Trey Lance with the third pick, while Jones fell to the Patriots at No. 15. The Niners then said drafting Lance was their plan all along.
Here’s why King believes the 49ers throwing out a smokescreen with Jones:
“Suppose the Niners want to convince the world they’re picking Jones, and suppose they’ve talked to several teams about Jimmy Garoppolo in trade, and suppose they?re trying to get a ransom for Garoppolo, and suppose they think that if there are teams that want Garoppolo, they’ll pony up bigger packages than they’d offered.”
Which team made the most sense for Garoppolo? The Patriots. Which team clearly was interested in Jones? The Patriots.
The Patriots valued Jones nearly as much or more than the two quarterbacks — Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields — taken ahead of him in the draft. If the 49ers convinced the world they were taking Jones at No. 3 overall, then obviously New England would have no shot at him.
Prior to the 49ers’ rumored interest, Jones was viewed as the consensus No. 5 quarterback. So, if San Francisco took Jones at No. 3 overall, the chances of Lance or Fields being passed on by 11 teams and landing with the future QB-needy Patriots at No. 15 overall were slim. (The Chicago Bears traded from No. 20 up to No. 11 overall to take Fields.)
And if the Patriots weren’t going to come out of the draft with a quarterback, then they’d need to look elsewhere, which could lead them to swing an early deal for Garoppolo to ensure they got their QB.
Yes, this is a theory branched off from another theory. And if there’s truth to it, then the Patriots called the 49ers’ bluff and got their guy anyway. Meanwhile, Garoppolo is still a member of the 49ers for now.