On the latest episode of the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, Richard Sherman and Tre White broke down some of the top cornerbacks and quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL Draft. When it came time to talk about what the San Francisco 49ers would do at pick No. 3, both All-Pro players said the Niners would take Ohio State QB Justin Fields.
White said Fields is the best option while referencing his physical gifts. Sherman, as he always does, gave a fascinating answer:
I think people are missing out on the big picture. They’ve had this huge discussion about black quarterbacks, and how they’re kinda stereotyped in. ‘They’re not the hard worker. They’re athletic. They’re this. They’re that. And that’s where they’re pigeonholing Justin Fields.
He is literally the most efficient, if not one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the draft. He was completing I think 70% of his passes. He has similarities to what Jimmy does. Jimmy G is a very efficient quarterback. He’s going to have a high completion percentage. He’s going to get the ball to his spots. He’s going to move the ball down the field. He’s really smart. He has great command of Kyle’s offense. It’s really awesome to see.
I still think he’s going to be the starting quarterback Day 1 for San Francisco. They have a chance at a Super Bowl this year. They have a Super Bowl capable roster, which is obvious. He’s already taken them to one.
But I think Justin Fields is the one, even without his athleticism. If you just took him as a standalone pocket passer. His efficiency and completion percentage and what he’s able to do week in and week out. He’s a winner. He’s been at a program that competes at a high level year in and year out. Always in the championships and always in the big games. And he’s played well.
I think his athleticism adds another layer of elite ability that makes him a difference-maker. It’s also pigeonholed him as you’re not talking about him as the No. 1 pick. Nothing against Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, but I think there’s some implicit bias there that’s holding him back.
Sherman belongs on TV. This is the type of analysis fans of football like you, and I could stand to learn from. We don’t get this type of depth from your everyday analyst.
It’s no secret that Fields is a popular option among the 49ers fan base. He’s QB1b for my money and for a lot of the reasons Sherman mentioned. The point I loved the most was that Fields would still be the most talented quarterback based on how he performs in the pocket. If we all say Shanahan craves accuracy and pocket mobility, then Fields is the pick.
As for questions about him off the field, check out this story from Mark Sanchez:
If Fields has an other-worldly recall, then it’ll be even more difficult for the 49ers to pass on his skillset.
I’m curious how long before we hear the 49ers are interested in Fields or another one of the top quarterbacks. The cycle will move off Mac Jones eventually.
Collinsworth added that Fields would give the Niners’ offense a different dimension with his legs. Now, the offense could use Fields on bootlegs, and even if there is a defender there, Collinsworth believes Fields isn’t getting tackled by a second-level defender in the open field:
That’s 53 1⁄2 yards that you have to cover now. It’s been hard enough to stop that offense as it was. You add in that running quarterback/edge and backside defender. That’s a lot to defend.
Sherman referenced how Washington’s offense took the league by storm with RGIII and the zone read:
“You didn’t know where the ball was going. He’s making quick passes. He was running. He was keeping. But, it’s the in the pocket, when the play breaks down, when the play isn’t there. And, if you’re not spying him, it’s going to be crazy.
And the offensive line is great, but now you have to add that element of pause in that division. The NFC West is just a mobile quarterback division. If you draft Justin Fields, and he ever gets on the field and plays after Jimmy plays another ten years or whatever he does, I think it changes the dynamic and adds a dynamic to Kyle’s offense that’s necessary.
The pass rush now has to pause. The blitzes have to slow down. Now, you have to get there. Because if you don’t get there, he’ll dice through your defense in a way that’s going to get ugly.”
Sherm playing a bit of the PR role protecting his former teammate, but you can get an idea of what Fields would do in this offense.
They continue with Fields and some criticisms around the 25-minute mark. For me, Fields’ aggression is a good thing, and Shanahan values that. When you’re physically superior, you tend to rely on your gifts too much. Fields tends to go all-in on every play instead of taking the small profit. If Fields is the pick, and Kyle can get his young QB to understand you can’t be a superhero on every play, we’re talking about a special, special combo.