Report: 49ers traded up to keep Patriots from getting Mac Jones (not a typo)

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones
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When the 49ers traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 in March, they did it with various objectives. One did not come to fruition.

According to Adam Schefter of, the 49ers made the move in order to ensure they would get Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, if the 49ers ultimately decided to take him.

Per Schefter, the 49ers believed that the Patriots coveted Jones. The 49ers wanted to have the ability to consider the quarterback candidates who would be left on the board after the Jaguars selected Trevor Lawrence and the Jets picked Zach Wilson and, if the 49ers so decided, to take Jones.

Obviously, they decided not to take Jones. Even more obviously, they were right about the Patriots.

The truth may even be a little stronger than this report. The truth may be that the 49ers made the move with the plan to take Jones, but that in the extended period of time between making the trade and taking the player, the 49ers changed their minds.

It’s not the first time something like that happened for the 49ers. In 2017, the 49ers didn’t seriously consider Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson (they could have picked either) because coach Kyle Shanahan had planned to sign Kirk Cousins the following offseason in free agency. In the interim, someone persuaded Shanahan to pivot to a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Four years later, someone persuaded Shanahan (who despite titles runs the football operations in San Francisco) to shift from Jones to Trey Lance.

With Shanahan calling the shots, it’s surely not an easy thing to do. Whoever decided Garoppolo would be better than Cousins and that Lance would be better than Jones had to find a way to get Shanahan to come to that conclusion on his own. Most assume that G.M. John Lynch was the quarterback whisperer, um, whisperer. Others suspect that it’s assistant G.M. Adam Peters who has gotten Shanahan to step away twice from his quarterback convictions.

The second one wasn’t easy. It required Shanahan to completely abandon his quarterback philosophy. He prefers pocket passers who run the offense with precision, confident that if the quarterback does exactly what the plays require, the plays will work. Lance introduced the second-play capability to the offense, giving them a mobile player who can (when the play that’s called doesn’t work) make chicken salad on the fly, improvising his way toward a better result like Mahomes and Watson, the guys Shanahan could have had four years ago.

And so here we are, on the first Sunday of the season. The 49ers took Lance, and he’s not the starter. The Patriots, without budging from No. 15, got Jones. And Jones has looked great, great enough to allow the Patriots to dump their veteran starter. If the 49ers had Jones, they could have done the same thing — saving $24.1 million in the process.

So, assuming that Schefter’s information is accurate (and there’s no reason to think it isn’t), the 49ers gave up two future first-round picks and a third-round pick for dibs on Jones. Basically, they paid dearly for “shotgun” and then decided to get in the back seat. While they may have found themselves leapfrogged by the Patriots if the 49ers stayed at No. 12, they likely would have gotten Jones or Lance — and they would have kept their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks in the process — if they’d stayed put.

Maybe it ultimately will pan out for the Niners. For now, it’s looking like they made a big mistake.

49 responses to “Report: 49ers traded up to keep Patriots from getting Mac Jones (not a typo)

  1. Let’s not forget that Cam is washed up. If he can run people over he’s not an NFL QB. Is strength as an NFL player is his size, not what’s between his ears. Garropolo while not a world beater is at least a decent thrower of the football, and I assume, vaccinated.

    Cam came with much more downside than Jimmy G. Sure the cash would be nice but it’s nice to know your season isn’t over if your starter goes down as well.

  2. Kyle seems like a great coach, but one that constantly has to overcome huge mistakes (whether or not they’re made by him).

  3. I think it came out later that (the usual unnamed sources)Kyle Shanahan wanted Trey Lance and GM John Lynch wanted Mac Jones. I guess Kyle won out in the end. I honestly thought in my heart of hearts that the 49ers were drafting Mac Jones.

  4. Yeah but Lance looks more like Mahommes and everyone is looking for the next PM recipe. That’s why GB grabbed Love, Chicago took Fields and SF took Lance. Plain ole white guys are a relic of the past. The hybrid athlete is the wave of the future.

  5. The fact that Mac Jones is starting and Trey Lance isn’t doesn’t at all mean the Niners blundered. Mac Jones is starting because he was way better than Cam Newton. Trey Lance isn’t starting, not because he’s much worse than Mac Jones, but because Garoppolo is much better than Cam Newton. It isn’t a bad idea for the Niners to have Lance wait a season before becoming the starter.

  6. For now, it looks like a mistake. But Jones was far more pro ready, and beat out a worse quarterback for the starting job. Lance is a rawer prospect, who needs time to develop. Jones has the higher floor, but Lance has a much higher ceiling. Very much like Mahomes, who didn’t come into the NFL as the current best QB in the league, he was a kinda raw talent who really benefitted by sitting for a year and getting a year of education on how to be an NFL quarterback. I personally think this trade could look very different in a year or two.

  7. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have changed the way all GMs will look at the QB position. There is too much QB talent coming out these days with dual and Triple threat capabilities for GMs to sit back and be comfortable with a “Pocket Only” passer. The QB of the future will be the best athlete on the field going forward

  8. I love how people act like Mac Jones is some amazing pro bowl QB because of a few good preseason games.

    Remember when Ryan Leaf put up big numbers and smoked Peyton Manning head to head in preseason??

    I’m not ready to crown him the next Tom Brady and hand over the Super Bowl just yet…

  9. When Shanahan told Lynch that he wants to pick Trey Lance, Lynch must have had a minor heart attack. LOL Lynch tried to trade the pick to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers but no dice. They could have picked Trey Lance without trading up. If the 49ers do not win, Shanahan will have a long vacation shortly.

  10. Daniel “Danny Dimes” Jones and even Mitch Trubisky had great rookie pre seasons. Let’s not crown Mac Jones quite yet.

  11. May be Shanahan will not publicly admit that he made a big mistake, but privately he probably is kicking himself, assuming that he actually wants to keep coaching instead of ending up like unemployed like the past few 49er head coaches.

  12. New England wasn’t going to move out of the 15th spot unless they got a crazy deal. Sometimes it’s better to watch other teams try to move up or down the board while you wait.

  13. Hold up. The rookies haven’t played a regular season game. Let’s see how this pans out in time.

  14. I think Mike Shanahan was a big influence on both decisions to pass
    Mahomes and Jones up for lesser
    Talented qbs.
    He left that blueprint of mistakes
    In Was. Also

  15. Josh Allen changed the way GMs view QBS?
    Ive heard Bills fans say silly things but this screams pure homerism,. Randall Cunningham. RGIII, Russell Wilson, DeShaun Watson, and others all came WAY before Joshy boy.
    Take off your Bills PJs and get with reality.

  16. It simply cannot be made up. The JimmyG trade yield isn’t really set in stone quite yet, but it isn’t bad either.

    BB just induces mental preztels on people not only as a coach, but as a GM, too.

    It simply cannot be made up. It just can’t.

  17. As a Bostonian and diehard pats fan, I’ll tell you why nobody should really believe this. I live in Chicago where my wife is from, and right after the bears took Trubisky, Schefter was blabbing some ridiculous stuff about trading up.

    He believed the bears were calling other teams about moving back while simultaneously locking in the deal with the 49ers to get Mitch. The bears were doing this and fhat blah blah blah. Yet, immediately after they get trubisky, it’s released that the 49ers never wanted Mitch.

    Schefter also said the browns wanted Mitch. That’s why they passed on him first overall right? As did the Niners? The clip is on YouTube if you want to see it. Pure speculation. Belichick and Shanahan and lynxh are close. We don’t sell the farm to move up. Never have.

  18. Traded two 1st and a 3rd for a UDFA caliber “QB.” It is mind boggling how Lynch still has a job.

  19. Carolina or Denver could have taken one or both of Lance and Jones, so in that light the trade up by SF is understandable.

  20. How about if we have both QBs actually play a couple regular season games first before we say one team made a mistake. I think even the biggest Trey Lance supporters would figure that Mac Jones would be more pro ready to begin the season. That doesn’t mean one guy is a bust and the other a star and vice versa. Give both of these QBs some time before judging the picks or the trade that allowed SF to choose their QB.

  21. I think the situation is even more complex. The Pats have a plan B; Jimmy G. He wants to play in NE. So if Jones is a flop, it will be a lost year, but then the Pats can pick up Jimmy G for next to nothing. And by drafting Lance, the writing is on the wall for Jimmy G in SF. But I doubt Jones can be worse than Cam was.

    No one will trade for Jimmy G because everyone knows SF has to get rid of him. The one wild card is a contending team losing their starting QB, and thus trading mid season for Jimmy G. That is sort of the Bradford scenario.

  22. Nobody knows if there’s a mistake or not because none of the rookies have play a single down before Sunday afternoon.

  23. The question is not who is the better QB … its the 49ers threw away two first round picks and a third for nothing.

  24. This a pretty astounding report. Today will be the first real glimpse into whether or not the 49ers made a mistake. Should be interesting. It’s hard to believe that Jones was still available at pick #15. Anything is possible in the NFL.

  25. The 49ers overpaid for Trey Lance, this is clear, simply because he or Mac Jones would’ve been there later. Giving up 2 first-round picks to move up will haunt them as they try to upgrade the rest of their roster down the road. The fact that the #3 overall pick isn’t ready to play also speaks to overpayment. I suspect he’ll be the last of the 1st round QBs taken this year to start a game- after Lawrence, Wilson, Jones, and Fields.

    And if Lance doesn’t pan out, it’ll be Shanahan and Lynch that take the blame for the QB miscues since they took over.

  26. Happens all the time in the NFL but I’d like to see a few of those rookie quarterbacks on the gridiron performing at a high level before I judge whose better than whom.

  27. Only reason the 49wrs took lance was because people were crying racism if the first 3 picks were white guys, that is a fact. They caved into the liberal pressure being in SF and had to take lance. Both will be major busts anyway

  28. What an analysis of the 49er’s draft. Nice work. Giving up all that draft capital to not only end up with someone available at #12, but also a player who isn’t slated to start. Crazy. The hoodie has the mind meld on SF.

  29. Schefter is losing credibility every time he tries to save his Mac Jones to SF take. If Niners truly wanted Mac, they could have simply traded to 6 with Philly. Miami wouldn’t have traded with New England. Atlanta and Cinci refused to trade down. SF wanted to jump Denver and Carolina, they weren’t worried about New England. And for everyone saying Lance would have been available at 3, how do you know that Denver and Carolina just didn’t like Fields and Jones, but would have taken Lance had he been available?

  30. I love all of you guys still proclaiming the dual/triple threat QB’s are the way to win.

    Meanwhile an 80 year old statue with cement feet is once again the reigning Superbowl champ.

    Mac Jones will be winning Superbowls long after Kyle is fired from SF.

  31. To be fair, before the draft I don’t think many people thought that Jones and Fields would stay on the board as long as they did, and though I doubt anyone was going to take Lance that early, you never know.

    Even so, to know that all three were going to be well within the 49ers’s reach for a lot less than what they paid in draft picks puts a ton of pressure on this to work out – especially considering that all the other high QB picks, from Lawrence down to Fields, have already been looking great in the preseason.

  32. Seeing as how the Niners won and the Pats lost I would say the Niners made the right move. Mac Jones is too much like Jimmy G. Niners had the choice of drafting the same style QB they have or get someone who can make plays in both the running and passing games and they chose the latter. Hopefully Shanahan doesn’t muck this up and he let’s his rookie learn before throwing him to the wolves.

  33. It looks like a mistake because Lance will sit for a year behind Jimmy G who was lights out today, and because Jones beat out Newton who was terrible last year? K.

  34. Wow! Lance had best work out and end up as a good starting QB for them or this will go from being a big screw up to a colossal screw up.

  35. lowlyfinfan88 says:
    September 12, 2021 at 10:08 pm
    “Seeing as how the Niners won and the Pats lost I would say the Niners made the right move”.
    Now there is some really fine long term analysis!

  36. lowlyfinfan88 says:
    September 12, 2021 at 10:08 pm
    “Mac Jones is too much like Jimmy G. Niners had the choice of drafting the same style QB they have or get someone who can make plays in both the running and passing games and they chose the latter”.

    By “that style of QB”…do you mean a pocket passer?…maybe like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning??? QB’s that shred defenses surgically with brains, knowledge, and a comprehensive understanding of their offence and the opponents defense?…rather than to just run out of the pocket and immediately create a broken play if the first read isn’t there?

  37. realfootballfan says:
    September 12, 2021 at 10:51 am
    Patriot fans are about to get a wake-up call starting today. Jones isn’t ready.
    Can’t be more wrong than that! He looked great in his first game. The only reason the Pats lost is because of a RB fumble right when they were poised to put the death nail into Miami. The never got the ball again and lost by 1 point. But Mac Jones looked about as good as a rookie can look.

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