Report: 49ers Sam Darnold Will ‘Push’ To Start Week 1; Team Believe He Has ‘Untapped Talent’

Sam Darnold

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The San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback situation will be a major storyline this offseason and Trey Lance will have to compete with free-agent addition Sam Darnold while Brock Purdy is sidelined.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the 49ers plan to split offseason practice reps between Lance and Darnold.

Darnold, who was labeled a bust after struggling as the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, showed some improvement during the 2022 season while playing for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had traded for him following the 2021 season. Now, Darnold has signed with the 49ers and could potentially surpass Trey Lance in the battle for the starting role.

The 49ers made a significant investment in Trey Lance when they traded up to select him in the 2021 draft. However, this does not guarantee that he will be given the starting nod over Darnold if the latter proves to be the better option. The team is reportedly hoping for “improvements from Lance”, who has been working hard during the offseason to refine his throwing mechanics.

Darnold started six games for the Panthers last season, managing a 4-2 record. Meanwhile, Lance has mostly been sidelined due to an injury or was on the bench during his first two seasons in the NFL and has not had many opportunities to showcase his skills.

Fowler adds that teams he talked to believe that Darnold will push for “meaningful snaps as early as week 1 and believe his major talent has gone largely untapped.”

It remains to be seen how the quarterback competition will unfold and who will ultimately secure the starting role for the 49ers.

Earlier in March, the 49ers signed Darnold to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. The team is seemingly hoping that head coach Kyle Shanahan’s quarterback-friendly offense can help revitalize Darnold’s career.

Shanahan has a track record of maximizing quarterback potential, as demonstrated by his success in developing 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, into a viable starter. With Purdy currently recovering from a significant offseason elbow surgery, there is a chance we could see Darnold take the field for the 49ers at some point during the upcoming season.

Shanahan himself expressed confidence in the team’s quarterback options, stating that he believes they have three talented quarterbacks who could all potentially become franchise quarterbacks. He specifically praised Darnold’s talent, comparing him to a top pick in the draft and indicating that he sees no reason to doubt Darnold’s abilities.

It appears likely that the 49ers will carry three quarterbacks on their roster this year, and if Purdy is not ready by training camp, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Darnold make starts for the team.

As the offseason progresses and training camp approaches, all eyes will be on the 49ers’ quarterback competition. The battle between Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will undoubtedly be a storyline to watch, and it remains to be seen who will emerge as the team’s starting quarterback for the upcoming season.