Ex-GM explains how Mac Jones could have gotten Garoppolo cut
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones has played so well for the New England Patriots this season that it is fair to wonder if the San Francisco 49ers regret not drafting him. While it is far too early to pass judgment on Trey Lance, it’s undeniable that Jones can win games as an NFL starter. If the Niners had a do-over with the draft, one former NFL executive thinks their roster would look a lot different today.

ESPN analyst and former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum made some bold claims about the 49ers during an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” this week. Most notably, Tannenbaum said he believes the Niners would have released Jimmy Garoppolo if they drafted Jones instead of Lance.

“I think they would have released Jimmy G., and here’s why — I think Mac Jones shows up and wins them over from Day 1,” Tannenbaum said. “Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are gonna go by what they see. They would not have guaranteed Jimmy G.’s $24 million salary. From after the draft to opening day, they would have had enough of a sample size to say, ‘We’re rolling with Mac Jones.’ They would have tried to trade him, but in my opinion they ultimately would have cut Jimmy G. to try to save that $24 million.”

Tannenbaum also said he was surprised at the time that the Niners liked Lance more than Jones.

“Mac Jones may wind up being a better player than Trey Lance, and San Francisco traded multiple first-round picks (to get Lance),” he said. “I was surprised they didn’t take Mac Jones. I thought he would have been a perfect fit there.”

Most analysts believed leading up to the draft that San Francisco was going to take Jones. One report claims they may have wanted to at one point but changed their minds.

Jones has made a bigger impact that any rookie quarterback this year, and it’s not close. One 49ers franchise icon recently questioned how the team handled the draft. It will be years before we can analyze the full picture, but Year 1 certainly goes to Jones and the Patriots.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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