Who will the 49ers draft third overall? Odds, breakdown, and best bet

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones throws a pass during win over Mississippi State
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

The 2021 NFL Draft is right around the corner. It’s the unofficial start of the offseason, and we’ll get the regular season schedule soon after. Things are starting to heat up this week, and rumors are flying. It can be hard to parse what’s real from what’s a smoke screen, but that’s what we’ll try to do today. There are plenty of big question marks in this draft, and the first one is what the 49ers will do at number three.

The first two picks are more or less set in stone, and what San Francisco does third will set the table for the rest of the draft. They traded up to draft a quarterback, that much we know. But which one? There are three main contenders: Mac Jones from Alabama, Justin Fields from Ohio State, and Trey Lance from North Dakota State. Let’s take a look at the odds for each, and then at my best bet for this pick. Here they are, courtesy of DraftKings:

Mac Jones -167

Justin Fields +250

Trey Lance +300

And now the case for each:

Breaking down the field

Everyone is pretty certain it’s going to be one of these three passers. Jones was the early heavy favorite, then Fields made a late charge, and then Jones surged back into a clear lead. Lance has been lurking just beneath the surface the whole time. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch have done extensive work on all three.

Shanahan reportedly loves Jones’ pocket presence, while Fields and Lance are undeniably the far superior athletes. Both Fields and Lance are capable of doing more physically, but the conventional wisdom has been that Shanahan views Jones as a fit for his unique offensive system.

Whether it’s been Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, or Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan hasn’t worked with the most mobile quarterbacks recently. He clearly isn’t someone who thinks you need to have one in today’s NFL. With that in mind, it’s time to talk about my best bet:

Mac Jones -167

Jones is this significant of a favorite for a reason. All the actual sourced reporting has indicated this is the direction the 49ers are leaning. The cases for Fields and Lance seem to boil down to not wanting to believe the 49ers will actually take Jones. The arguments revolve around people simply not buying that Jones, unheralded before this past college season, could be who Shanahan fell in love with.

But whether people like it or not, that seems to be the case. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has said he believes Jones will be the pick, and you don’t get much more plugged in than Schefter. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah is another of the most well-sourced draft analysts, and he also has the 49ers taking Jones.

The hard facts all point in Jones’ direction, while those arguing for Fields or Lance are relying completely on speculation and their own personal opinions. -167 isn’t too steep of a price considering the sentiment from national reporters seems to be nearly universal.

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