Did San Francisco 49ers fans get a glimpse of their team’s future Monday night?
It’s certainly possible.
On Monday, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson put on a prime-time performance, leading the Tigers to the national college football championship with a 35-31 victory over Alabama.
Watson was brilliant, leading the game-winning drive at the end of the game and throwing a touchdown pass to lock up the win and the championship. He completed 36-of-56 passes for 420 yards and three TDs and showed mobility and a strong arm plus leadership skills.
As he huddled with his offensive teammates at the start of their game-deciding last drive, Watson was poised and determined.
“It was calm. No one panicked,” Watson told reporters after the game. “I said, ‘Let’s be legendary.’”
Now Watson (who led Clemson to the title game a year ago, too) heads toward the NFL draft this spring and the 49ers – by virtue of their 2-14 season – have the No. 2 selection. They also need a young franchise quarterback, unless they decide to give Colin Kaepernick one more chance.
The Cleveland Browns, who hold the No. 1 pick, also could use a quarterback, but many draft analysts believe the Browns may use the top overall choice on Texas A&M standout Myles Garrett, an edge rusher and defender who has been graded by some as the most talented player available. The Browns also have been linked to a possible trade for Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Or, the Browns could draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who some rate as a better prospect than Watson.
If that were to happen, then Watson would fall to the 49ers. Wrote the analytic website Pro Football Focus, of Watson: “Watson has the tools to make the necessary throws, whether zipping one up the seam or throwing downfield with touch, while his mobility is an added bonus.”
Certainly, Watson’s stock is on the rise after his starring role Monday night, and if there’s one thing the 49ers need, it’s a star at quarterback.