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Baldy: Sam Darnold could be 49ers’ Week 1 starter if given a fair chance to compete

Apr 17, 2023 at 11:36 AM--

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Brock Purdy, Trey Lance, and Sam Darnold will be together for the first time when they arrive in Santa Clara today for the start of the San Francisco 49ers' offseason program. Purdy is still recovering from his March 10 surgery to repair the ligament tear in his right elbow, a recovery that could last into September.

That leaves Lance and Darnold in an offseason quarterback competition, possibly to be the 49ers' Week 1 starter, should Purdy not be full-go in time. One respected NFL analyst believes Darnold, who, like Lance, is a former No. 3 overall pick, can be that Week 1 starter.

"Right now, Trey Lance has started five games in the last three years (including college)," Brian Baldinger said in a video posted to Twitter.

Lance entered last season as the starting quarterback but suffered a season-ending ankle injury during a Week 2 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Baldinger notes that Lance played poorly in his first start last season, a loss to the Chicago Bears in the season opener. Although, it is worth noting the game was played in monsoon-like conditions.

Darnold is experienced. He has 55 starts under his belt but has never been part of a roster as talented as San Francisco's.

"Sam Darnold is there to compete, and I expect Sam Darnold to get a chance to compete," Baldinger continued. "And if he gets a fair chance to compete, it won't surprise me if Sam Darnold is the starting quarterback for San Francisco, Week 1."

Baldinger isn't the only one who believes Darnold could win the battle to fill in at quarterback until Purdy's return.

"We do not know what Trey Lance is going to be if he continues the trajectory that he's been on," Baldinger's NFL Media colleague, NFL insider Ian Rapoport, said last month. "And I think, certainly, it seems Sam Darnold will more likely than not be the starter going into the season, but there is an opportunity for someone to step in there and start [the] first couple of games of the regular season for the 49ers."


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