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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Darnold on role with 49ers: “As long as we’re winning games, that’s the only thing that matters”

Mar 16, 2023 at 4:12 PM--

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Sam Darnold is the newest San Francisco 49ers quarterback. He joins a quarterback room that includes third-year passer Trey Lance and second-year player Brock Purdy. The Niners are Darnold's third NFL team since the New York Jets made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2018. He spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, appearing in 18 games while starting 17.

Darnold felt that signing with the 49ers was an easy decision. He's excited about the opportunity to work with head coach and play-caller Kyle Shanahan and the other 49ers coaches.

The quarterback steps into a great situation, too. San Francisco undoubtedly has the most talented roster he has ever been a part of.

"Just excited to get started in this organization and get to work," Darnold stated on Thursday, speaking to 49ers reporters for the first time.

Lance and Purdy are attempting to return from serious injuries. Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury on September 18, 2022. Purdy is out about six months after undergoing surgery to repair the tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, an injury sustained in the NFC Championship Game.

"I mean, being in a really good organization was a priority for me, being with really good coaches and really good personnel as well," Darnold shared. "So those were kind of the top things for me. And, yeah, I'm very happy to be here, but understand that [I've] got to continue to work and work hard."

Darnold admits that he is focused only on what he can control. He isn't worried about his role with the team or position on the depth chart just yet. Nor has anything been promised to him.

"I think, for me, it's really coming in here and doing everything that I can to understand the offense," he said. "I know I have my work cut out for me when it comes to that. So I think that's just my focus right now, is doing whatever I can to help this team win games when it comes time to do that, whether that's me being the backup or starting. And that's my mindset."

Have there been conversations with the coaching staff about his role? The uncertainty at quarterback has created an opportunity for Darnold. He admits there are some unknowns with Lance returning from injury and the end of Purdy's recovery timeline coming dangerously close to the start of the regular season.

"I think those are things that, with a good quarterback room, as long as we stick together, and we understand that we just got to work hard and continue to put the best foot forward for each other, that everything's going to work out," Darnold explained. "And I think at the end of the day, as long as we're winning games, that's the only thing that matters to me.

"As I continue to get to know Trey and Brock, and talking to people around the building about those guys, it seems to me that all they care about is winning as well. And obviously, as a competitor, you want to play, but at the end of the day, you got to do what's right for the team.

"You leave those decisions up to Kyle. And we know that he's going to put the best guy out there and do the right thing. We just need to go out there and win."

Darnold hasn't spoken with Lance or Purdy yet, but he is very familiar with their play.

"I feel like all three of us are pretty similar," Darnold said. "We have the ability to get out and make plays when we need to ... and we can also throw from the pocket. So I see a lot of similarities in all three of our games and [I'm] just excited to work with them and meet them as soon as possible."

Darnold is also eager to familiarize himself with Shanahan's system. The veteran quarterback realizes mastering it isn't always easy but knows a quarterback can flourish if they do.

Said Darnold: "I understand there's a lot of different checks, a lot of different shifts, motions, formations, all those things, and I'm very excited about that opportunity to do that and just help this team however I can."

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