As we approach the 2021 regular season, it has not taken long for quarterback (QB) Mac Jones to start proving to the San Francisco 49ers that they drafted the wrong guy.
Jones had a stellar preseason for Bill Belichick and the Patriots and he has earned the respect of the best coach in the history of the National Football League – – a coach who has six Super Bowl rings with New England.
As a rookie, Jones has been able to convince Belichick to start him and cut veteran QB Cam Newton.
Meanwhile, San Francisco gave up the farm for a QB who has not been able to beat out veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job with the 49ers (even before the hand injury).
San Francisco gave up three first round picks for QB Trey Lance, who was not even good enough to play Division I – – and a QB who is now being schemed by head coach Kyle Shanahan, to occasionally come into the game to run the option.
On the field through his first three preseason games, Lance has been sporadic. Lance has flashed a good play here and there, which is largely concerning. When a player flashes ability it means he has the ability inside of him, but there is something in his head that is stopping him from being consistent. It could be a lack of courage. It could be that he does not believe in himself. It could be fear, but it absolutely has nothing to do with what is going on around him – – it is something that probably can not be corrected that is going on upstairs. This is who Trey Lance is.
Lance threw one interception this preseason, but he could have easily turned the ball over a total of eight times. He either got lucky when either the ball bounced back to him off the turf when he fumbled, or defenders could not hold onto his passes either. It was not just his receivers who dropped a league high (10) passes. Defenders had a hard time holding on when it went off their hands too. Lance has lacked touch and accuracy, and at times the ball has come off his hand wobbly. It has forced his receivers to sometimes have to try to catch what amounts to a football knuckle-ball.
Translation = the 49ers gave up a lot for a QB who is not and never will be a big time starting QB in the National Football League.
I understand that is very upsetting to read for a lot of 49ers’ fans and it is easier to attack me for my evaluation, than it is taking an honest to goodness look at his three preseason games. It is all right there on NFL Game Pass.
Prior to the draft, I stated “any GM considering Trey Lance in the first round should be fired, on the spot,” and mark my words, Lance is going to get the entire staff fired in San Francisco. It may be in 18 weeks from now on Black Monday, or it may be in two years when everyone starts coming to terms with what I have been seeing and saying all along. It all depends on how long Shanahan and team general manager John Lynch can hold people off.
Granted, Shanahan is a very intelligent strategic offensive coordinator in league circles, but scheme will not be able to cover up from what is going on in Lance’s head and as much as Shanahan tries to build Lance up, his own mistakes are going to kill his confidence.
Meanwhile, Jones looks like the front-runner for rookie of the year honors out of the gates and he was taken 12 picks after Lance. My QB2 pre-draft has looked calm, cool and collected – – and he has looked like an established veteran as a rookie. Everything I liked about Jones pre-draft has shown up on film this preseason for Belichick.
As I have stated before, there have been several times this preseason, I have had to rub my eyes because I keep thinking I am seeing QB Tom Brady when I have watched Jones lead the Patriots’ offense. I do not believe Jones has the same kind of chip on his shoulder that Brady has (no player does), which is what has propelled Brady to being the G.O.A.T., but outside of that – – Jones has what it takes to lead the Patriots offense at a high level.
If anyone inside or outside the NFL puts on the film – – if anyone in the media puts on the film – – and watches Lance vs. Jones in the preseason, they too will see there is no comparison. The film does not lie.
And before we get into this whole “it is just the preseason” nonsense, let us remember that pendulum swings both ways. Defenses are as vanilla as ice cream in the preseason and Lance is struggling to this degree on film. I can not imagine how bad he will look when defenses get serious. The same holds true for Jones, as there will be a natural learning curve when the bullets are live, but with his ability, combined with that kind of leadership and coaching, he will be just fine.
Take it from me, I cracked Kyle’s daddy’s play-scripting system of the first 15 plays prior to the 1998 AFC Championship game – – and my interview at the Jets came down to me looking Bill Belichick in the eyes and convincing him to hire me, I know what I am seeing.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.