Jim Mora Jr. is one of the best football analysts in the country.
He's extremely experienced, knowledgeable, honest and generous with his insights. He was the defensive coordinator of the 49ers, and a two-time NFL head coach, plus a head coach in college. He knows his stuff.
I recently asked him to analyze the quarterbacks the 49ers might draft next week. Here's what Mora said about Justin Fields:
MORA Jr.: "I love the fact that he's a winner. I love his record at Ohio State. You've got to put some stock in the fact that you're drafting a kid who knows how to win. The fact that he played at Ohio State, he played in big games against great teams on a national stage and performed well says a lot about him. The way he responded this year in the college football playoff to the disappointment the year before says a lot about his competitive nature.
"I think he's a great decision-maker with the football, as evidenced by his touchdown-to-interception ratio. Now, he's not perfect. He's going to force some throws. He's still developing.
"I love his mobility. I love his ability to stand in the pocket and throw it, and then get out of the pocket, be creative, keep his eyes up the field, keep the ball in a throwing position, remain a threat as a passer to get the ball downfield late with accuracy and still have the ability to tuck it and run and make critical yards if he needs to. You've seen him make some tremendous runs. I wouldn't characterize him as a running quarterback. I would characterize him as a really great quarterback who can also threaten you with his legs.
"I like his size and stature. I like his demeanor. I like his toughness. There's not a lot that I don't like. If you want to be hypercritical, the way the ball comes out of his hand, you see some quarterbacks throw a more pure pass, or have a more pure motion, but he gets it done. As I watched him the last two years perform, I was always captivated, I always wanted to see what he was going to do, and he convinced me that he's an elite player."
Q: When you say he doesn't have the purest motion, what do you mean?
MORA Jr.: "I don't know that it's a weakness -- it's just an observation. When you watch Trevor Lawrence throw the football, the way his arm moves through his motion and the way the ball comes out of his hand, there's just a purity to it. Certain quarterbacks, the ball just comes off their hands in a different way. And with Fields, when I say it's a little more labored, I don't want anyone to think that he throws labored, because he doesn't. He throws a nice ball, it's just not as fluid, as loose, as natural. It's maybe a little bit more of a learned motion. If that's the thing we're picking on, then he's fine."
Q: How coachable is this issue?
MORA Jr.: "It's coachable. And I don't want to call it a weakness. Because if it were a weakness, we wouldn't be talking about him being a pick the 49ers would consider. It's just a difference with some of the other guys. It's just his style. It's not as pretty. But the kid is a great competitor and he's a winner. He's a big-time winner."