Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports



The time between NFL teams' offseason programs and training camp can make it difficult for shows on NFL Network to fill airtime with interesting topics. What better time to take a really early look at the 2018 NFL Draft?

"Good Morning Football" on NFL Network decided to discuss two possible destinations for USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who is projected to be one of the top quarterbacks taken – possibly even the first overall selection. Among the two primary quarterback-needy teams in the discussion were the San Francisco 49ers.

Odds Shark currently has the Kyle Shanahan led team's win-loss line at 4.5 games this season. A 4-to-5 win season may not be enough to gain the first overall selection next year, but it will likely be enough to select one of the top quarterback prospects should Shanahan feel that one is a fit for his offense. Those prospects potentially include players like Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, and UCLA's Josh Rosen.

As for a match between Darnold and the 49ers, the "Good Morning Football" hosts feel that the USC quarterback might be a good fit with what Shanahan wants to accomplish in San Francisco. More precisely, they feel that Shanahan and the 49ers might be a good fit for Darnold since they attacked the topic from the quarterback's perspective and where he might want to go if given a choice. The Jets or the 49ers?

This offseason, the 49ers brought in former Chicago Bears quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. Neither are considered to be long-term solutions at the position and are seen as stopgaps until the 49ers can acquire their quarterback of the future. The team also used a third-round draft pick on former Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard and signed undrafted free agent Nick Mullens of Southern Miss.

Kyle Brandt: If I'm Sam Darnold I want to play for Shanahan and 49ers

"Darnold, having a chance to be out on the West Coast, watching him up close, the guy has an incredible arm," said Will Selva. "He does have that hitch. It's unorthodox but if you go to a guy like Kyle Shanahan – I mean, a guy like that can work with the mechanics. We've seen guys that have hitches like Kevin Hogan of the Browns. He was a Stanford guy. Again, very familiar with how he was. Won a lot. He had that hitch."

Peter Schrager then asked Kyle Brandt, "Would you rather go to San Fran, where there's that legacy of Steve Young and Joe Montana and all those expectations, or would you rather come to the Jets where year-after-year there's a new quarterback and you might just be the next guy?"

"I think if I'm Darnold, I want to be part of what's going on with Shanahan and (John) Lynch," Brandt answered. "I'm excited about that. I like that they went defense in the draft. I don't know if you want that kind of noise (by going to the Jets)...It's the kind of guy you are. Are you that kind of 'spotlight guy?' Do you have the Broadway Joe in you? Or are you a California kid who wants to go up the coast?"

Of course, the 49ers' 2018 draft position depends entirely on the team's success (or lack of) during the upcoming season. It is entirely possible that the team surprises analysts and has more success than expected in Shanahan's first year as head coach.

Darnold doesn't yet have a full college season under his belt. He served as the Trojans' backup quarterback for three games until starter Max Browne was benched following a 1-2 start. Darnold lost his first start but would go on to win each of his remaining games in 2016. He was named the 2016 Pac-12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 2,633 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions last season. The quarterback also rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

In a 52-49 Rose Bowl victory over Penn State, Darnold completed 33 of his 53 passes for 453 yards and five touchdowns.