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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What to make of the 49ers signing QB Sam Darnold

Rohan Chakravarthi
Mar 13, 2023 at 3:30 PM--

After a major splash in defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, the San Francisco 49ers have reached an agreement with Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold on a one-year deal.

Darnold, 25, is coming off a tumultuous season with the Carolina Panthers where he finished strong as the starting quarterback, and was expected to receive interest on the open market in a backup role.

However, he lands with the 49ers on a one-year deal, which currently places him as the backup quarterback behind Trey Lance, but likely ends as the third-string option when Brock Purdy returns from his UCL injury near the beginning of the regular season.

Darnold's fit

From the 49ers perspective, Sam Darnold is a solid signing as a player with starting experience, youth, and understanding of his role.

Darnold makes even more sense as a backup because the 49ers' current starter, Trey Lance, has minimal experience as a top signal-caller, and the former Panthers quarterback can provide adequate competition to push Lance and help San Francisco identify where their third-year quarterback currently is.

Additionally, pairing Darnold with Kyle Shanahan allows for a valuable learning opportunity under an offensive mastermind, which could be appealing in future backup roles, should his time in San Francisco be a one-year stint.

Of course, Darnold's availability and talent as a third-string quarterback is an upgrade over Josh Johnson, providing San Francisco the depth they were searching for at the position.

Darnold's market

The 49ers signing Darnold was a good, cost-controlled move for their roster in 2023, but it was a surprise to hear that the former third-overall puck selected the Bay Area as his next destination.

After the end to his season in 2022, it appeared that Darnold could fetch a solid role as a young second-string quarterback with a higher salary than he's likely to earn with the 49ers, but instead, the former Panther chose San Francisco as his home for 2023 to reset.

The experience should be of value for Darnold, as he can learn under San Francisco's system, but it was a surprising move in my eyes.

Regardless, the 49ers have found a young, cost-controlled backup quarterback that should provide as insurance for each of their rookie contract options, while serving as good competition for Trey Lance in the offseason as the North Dakota State product is given the opportunity to earn the starting job.
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1 Comment

  • Grant Bong
    Well written Rohan..there is a reason for everything...Why do I have to see Grant Chon every time I'd like to read your post?..then when I scroll down I get to see the little pricks face again. Can we stop that please? Thank you
    Mar 13, 2023 at 5:09 PM


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