PROVO — Few people had a 2020 as successful as BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. After a terrific campaign in the strangest college football season – probably of all-time – Wilson has found himself catapulted to the upper echelon of NFL mock drafts by many major publications and pundits of record.
While it’s a forgone conclusion that Clemson signal caller Trevor Lawrence will be the No. 1 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wilson has been projected by some as the next player to hear his name called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which would put the pride of Corner Canyon High School in the green, white and black colors of the New York Jets.
While it would be any athlete’s dream to be selected as a top-two draft pick and be headed to the bright lights of the Big Apple, Wilson would do well to wait a bit and hear his name called a bit later in the first round. New York managed to shoot themselves in the foot by winning a pair of games and taking themselves out of the Lawrence sweepstakes. Apart from winning games they should have been trying to lose, this squad does not have a lot going for it. The roster is almost completely devoid of playmakers, the coaching staff has frequently been rightfully criticized for head-scratching decision-making, and above all, it’s a losing culture.
Wilson would be way better off to take a breath and wait for another club on the other side of the country to call his name. The San Francisco 49ers, who have the 15th overall pick, would be the ideal team for a young QB.
Known for sourdough bread bowls and insanely high housing expenses, San Francisco is also known for gridiron success. The Niners have won five Super Bowls, two of which came with a former BYU star as the starting QB. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Steve Young? His great-great-great grandpa is the school’s namesake.
Young himself thinks that Wilson is the real deal, giving the Draper, Utah product his endorsement on a Bay Area radio show last week.
“The kid is a really good player,” Young said. “I mean, I’m not going to say he’s Patrick Mahomes, but I’m saying he plays like Patrick Mahomes. There’s no throw he can’t make, and he’s just intuitive and really present when he’s playing. Man, every week, you’re like, ‘Wow. This is something good.'”
Young continued to say that he thought Wilson could be a great fit in San Francisco’s offensive system.
More than just a proven BYU pipeline, San Francisco can also offer Wilson something that New York cannot at this time: a good roster. The 49ers are only one year removed from appearing in a Super Bowl they very easily could have won. This season, they were decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball, including multiple injuries to the most handsome QB in football, Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s very possible and pretty likely that the Niners will return to NFC prominence with a healthy lineup next season. However, it’s not as likely that they’ll do so with ‘Jimmy GQ’ under center, as he has an expensive contract and has struggled mightily at times. San Francisco could very easily cut or trade Garoppolo. Could Wilson fill that potential vacancy? Why the heck not – as many BYU fans would say.
With Wilson in red and gold, George Kittle at tight end, Kyle Shanahan calling the shots, and Nick Bosa causing havoc on the other side of the ball, the 49ers could be a force to be reckoned with. That would be a much better place to be in as opposed to the endless futility and intense scrutiny that would be found in New York. Wilson and his family, who are known for appealing to a higher power during games, should pray to strike gold in San Francisco.
It might take some divine intervention to get Wilson in the Bay Area, however. If the Jets pass on him at No. 2, a number of other teams could swoop him up. Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Denver and New England all pick before the Niners and may have a promising quarterback at the top of their respective wishlists. Still, San Francisco could pitch a trade including Garoppolo and its first rounder to move up in the pecking order and select Wilson. Stranger things have happened.
Regardless, hats off to Wilson. He managed to do something that 99 percent of the world did not; conquer the adversity and challenges of 2020 while improving his stock as a soon-to-be professional. That’s something to be envious of.
PHOTO: BYU Photo