SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — There is little doubt what position the San Francisco 49ers will be targeting in Thursday night’s NFL Draft. What remains in question just who the quarterback will be that they use the No. 3 choice to select.
After an impressive pre-draft pro day with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in attendance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields has emerged as a strong choice.
But on a Monday zoom call, Shanahan remained coy and non-committal.
“I’ll say when we made this decision (to move up in the draft), we knew that there were five guys that we thought, we felt that we’d be okay with taking,” Shanahan said. “After going through this whole process, I feel good about five guys at three. Yeah, we had a guy probably at first back then, but we knew that wasn’t set in stone and we knew the only way we could figure out a little bit more, especially when you can’t work out guys, you can’t meet with these people.”
Here are five things to know about Fields.
- Leadership: Fields was a vocal leader among the league’s players in convincing the Big 10 Conference to reverse its position to cancel the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 outbreak. During an August appearance on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ show, Fields ignited the debate by saying “If the SEC, ACC, and Big 12, all think we can have a season safely, then I don’t see a reason why the Big Ten can’t do the same.” He then penned a letter to the Big 10 Commissioner that stated in part, “We, the football players of the Big Ten, together with the fans and supporters of college football, request that the Big Ten Conference immediately reinstate the 2020 football season. Allow Big Ten players/teams to make their own choice as to whether they wish to play or opt out this fall season. Allow Big Ten players/teams who choose to opt out of playing a fall season to do so without penalty or repercussion.”
- After transferring from Georgia to Ohio State, Fields had a historic first season as a Buckeye. He completed 67.2% of his passes for 3,273 yards while accounting for 51 touchdowns (41 passing, 10 rushing). Fields became the first quarterback in Big Ten history with 40 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs in the same season. His 41-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio was the best in the country.
- Making the most of the 2020 season: Fields led Ohio State to the Big 10 title and a spot in the national championship game. He completed 70% of his passes, tossing for 2100 yards and 22 touchdowns. Fields also showed he was a dangerous rusher, gaining 383 yards on 81 rushing attempts and scoring eight TDs. In a head-to-head showed with top draft pick Trevor Lawrence, Fields led Ohio State to a convincing 49-28 win, completing 22-of-28 pass attempts for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns.
- Accuracy: According to Pro Football Focus, Fields was the most accurate passer on first reads among the top college quarterbacks during the 2020 season. Field had a 90.6% completion rate, Zack Wilson was second at 90.1%, Trey Lance third 87.2%, Lawrence was 7th at 78.6% and Mac Jones 8th at 75.7%.
- Overcoming adversity: In the days before the draft, a news report emerged stating Fields has suffered from epilepsy since childhood. Several players have gone on to successful NFL career while also suffering from the illness including All-Pro running back Tiki Barber, Hall of Fame offensive lineman Alan Faneca, All-Pro cornerback Samari Rolle and running back Jason Snelling. The NFL Network reported Fields was first diagnosed with epilepsy during his childhood and has seen symptoms ease in recent years. By taking proper medication, he does not have seizures.