The NFL Draft is just under a week away, and after an abysmal 2-14 season, the San Francisco 49ers find themselves with the second overall pick in the draft. While the team has a mountain of needs they need to address, no team can function without a franchise quarterback at the helm. The 49ers have a chance to pull the trigger on someone in this year’s draft who epitomizes what a franchise quarterback looks like.
Deshaun Watson, in two years as the full-time starter for the Clemson Tigers, only lost two games during that stretch. One of those losses came to Alabama in the National Championship in 2016, the same school in which Watson would defeat in one of the most epic college football games of all time. Both years Watson faced Alabama in the National Championship games, the Crimson Tide’s defense was said to be “historic” and “one of the best ever.” Watson did not seem to notice.
In those two championship games, Watson put up 1,056 combined passing and rushing yards, tossing seven touchdowns and one rushing touchdown with only one interception. He came up huge in the clutch of the second game and final of Watson’s college career, tossing the game winning touchdown with one second left to seal the Tiger’s first college championship in over 30 years.
While Watson’s career collegiate numbers are extremely impressive (10,168 passing yards, 90 touchdowns and 32 interceptions), it is ability to shine brightest on the biggest stage that should convince teams to draft him. His ability to not only perform lights-out in the clutch and also on the some of the biggest stages proves that he can win in the most dire of circumstances. His leadership is exemplified by how his teammates rallied around him in those championship games, especially on their game-winning drive that took the game down to the final second when they won the championship.
The 49ers are in desperate need of not just someone to sling the pigskin around for them, but a leader. They have NaVorro Bowman as a vocal leader on the defensive side of the ball, but they need someone that can take charge and lead the team physically and emotionally. While there are other quarterbacks available in the draft that might have numbers comparable to Watson, none of them have the experience he has in high-pressure situations and the track record of playing his best ball on the biggest stages. His intagibles are far and away the best in the draft, and his ceiling for what he can accomplish in the NFL is unreachable.
The 49ers are not a very good football team right now. But adding Watson will give them someone whom they can build around, and get back to the dynasty that they once were. Pass on him, and they will regret it. Just ask them about Aaron Rodgers.
Both images used in this piece came from Wikimedia Commons.