The San Francisco 49ers have added another quarterback to their expected open competition for the 2023 season.
Sam Darnold, the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, is reportedly heading to San Fran on a one-year deal, per ESPN.
Darnold enters a competition with Brock Purdy, “Mr. Irrelevant” in last year’s NFL Draft who wowed everyone with his success in a starting role last season, and Trey Lance, the 2021 third overall pick who is hoping to get his starting job back after a season-ending injury.
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This move from the 49ers comes after former starter Jimmy Garoppolo reportedly agreed to become the Las Vegas Raiders new starting quarterback after they released Derek Carr. Garoppolo’s deal is expected to be worth $67.5 million over the next three seasons.
It’s been five seasons since Darnold entered the NFL as the Jets’ hopeful quarterback of the future. But after three tumultuous seasons in New York with injury and inconsistent play hurting his development into the franchise guy, the Jets moved on and traded him to the Carolina Panthers before the 2021 season.
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Darnold’s situation with the Panthers was constant battles for the starting role, and he did win that in 2021. But he eventually lost the role after going 4-7 for the year.
The Panthers had many issues other than quarterback last season, but Darnold once again got his shot to start. While he went 4-2, the Panthers also tried P.J. Walker and started Baker Mayfield at the beginning of the season.
Darnold threw for 1,143 yards with seven touchdowns to three interceptions with a 58.6% completion rate in his six starts.
Despite having more experience than both Purdy and Lance combined, Darnold isn’t at the top of the depth chart.
Purdy, who underwent elbow surgery to clean up his injury from the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles, should emerge as the quarterback to beat because of his tremendous efforts in just a short period of time.
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He went 5-0 as a starter during the regular season, throwing for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns to four interceptions. He was also able to win two playoff games against the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys before falling to the Eagles.
Then there’s Lance, who still has the talent GM John Lynch and the rest of the organization believes in after being named the starter out of training camp before the 2022 season. However, that quickly changed to Garoppolo once he fractured his ankle in Week 2.
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If anything, Darnold’s addition not only adds competition but assurance to the quarterback position after the 49ers used four different ones last year due to the injury bug.