Dolphins trade No. 3 overall pick in 2021 NFL draft to 49ers, Miami then deals with Eagles to vault back into top 10

With uncertainty looming over the long-term picture of their quarterback position and a passer-rich draft now roughly one month away, the San Francisco 49ers pulled off a major trade that will dramatically impact the plans of multiple teams.

The Niners acquired the No. 3 overall pick of the draft, previously held by the Miami Dolphins, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. To secure the pick, San Francisco has agreed to ship the 12th overall pick, a 2021 third-rounder and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to Miami.

The person requested anonymity because the deal had not been officially announced by the teams involved.

The 49ers still have Jimmy Garoppolo under contract, but it’s no secret that coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have had mixed feelings about the veteran, who has spent the last three-and-a-half seasons in San Francisco. 

Garoppolo helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl during the 2019 season. However, durability has been an issue. Injury reduced him to just three games in 2018 and only six in 2020.

By trading up to the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft, it could mean the 49ers are eyeing a quarterback and that current 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo could be on the way out.

Garoppolo still has two years left on his contract. 

The 49ers appear intent on resolving their long-term quarterback situation and moving up to the No. 3 spot positions themselves to do that. There are several high-profile quarterbacks who will be available in the draft. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is widely seen as the projected No. 1 pick to the Jaguars, but BYU's Zach Wilson, North Dakota State's Trey Lance and Ohio State's Justin Fields could all be the next players taken.

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The teams currently holding pick Nos. 2-4, the Jets, the 49ers and the Falcons, have all been linked to potential passers in mock draft projections.

San Francisco then might have another serious decision to make if it goes with a passer. Take the more pro-ready quarterback, which some NFL talent evaluators believe is Jones because of the offense that he ran in college and the responsibilities he was charged with, or go with a quarterback possessing a perceived high ceiling? Fields and Lance are believed to fall in that category. 

According to the NFL Network, Lynch reached out to Garoppolo at the time of the trade to inform him that he remained in the team’s plans. He could serve as the place-holder by starting now while a rookie quarterback develops. 

For Miami, the trade seems to signal belief in second-year pro Tua Tagovailoa, who was taken fifth overall last season but had mixed results as a rookie. The Dolphins, who originally acquired this year's No. 3 pick from a trade involving left tackle Laremy Tunsil and the Houston Texans two years ago, have additional resources to continue fortifying their roster. And they didn’t hold onto that 12th overall pick from San Francisco very long. They turned around traded that pick and the 123rd pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for the sixth overall pick, No. 156 and a first-rounder in 2022.

The 49ers’ trade puts more pressure on other quarterback-needy teams in the draft. The Carolina Panthers, who pick eighth overall, are rumored to covet a quarterback and might have to move up themselves if they wish to ensure they get one of the top passers.

The Jets currently have Sam Darnold, whom they drafted third overall in 2018. However, that was under a different head coach and general manager, and Darnold faces an uncertain future with the Jets. New York could use the No. 2 pick on a QB, or they could move that pick and build around Darnold. 


Follow USA TODAY Sports NFL columnist Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.