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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Jones shares honest opinions about 49ers’ Trey Lance, Sam Darnold

Jun 5, 2023 at 1:17 PM--

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Brock Purdy is trending towards being the Week 1 starter for the San Francisco 49ers when they open their season at Acrisure Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers—and Purdy isn't even practicing yet. The second-year player is still recovering from his March 10 surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow and may not get on the practice field until late August.

That leaves third-year quarterback Trey Lance to compete with another former No. 3 overall pick, Sam Darnold, for the QB2 job and maybe the Week 1 starter should there be any setbacks in Purdy's recovery. Lance started the 2022 season as the 49ers' starting quarterback but suffered a season-ending ankle injury during Week 2.

Former 49ers tight end Brent Jones recently joined KNBR and shared why he has been so impressed with Lance throughout this whole situation.

"I love the way the kid has handled himself," Jones said on the Murph & Mac show. "There's been a lot of adversity for him as a young player, and he's kind of kept his mouth closed. He's just worked hard. He's said all the right things when asked—because that's a tough situation for a young, competitive guy."

Lance has been working hard this offseason to improve his throwing mechanics after being forced to compensate for a finger injury that plagued him throughout his rookie season and into last offseason. This offseason, Lance worked with private quarterback coach Jeff Christensen, who also works with Patrick Mahomes, to correct his mechanics. Those workouts took place just down the road from Jones, in Texas, and the former tight end admits to driving by and getting glimpses of the 49ers quarterback.

"I know he's really worked on his throwing motion and his release," Jones said. "A lot of his footwork as well. And he has a great quarterback coach. ... So I just view those things as being a net positive. He's not just sitting back and saying, 'Hey, I'll just rely on all my athletic ability.' He's going to work at getting better, and the better competition that we have at the quarterback spot, I just view that as a positive thing for the Niners and for Niner fans."

Jones is less sure about Darnold, the one-time New York Jets and Carolina Panthers quarterback who never lived up to his draft status.

"Sam Darnold, I don't know," Jones said. "I thought early on in his career he could be something special. I know that he has all the skills in shorts, right? In seven-on-seven, Sam Darnold looks like a world-beater, but you got to be able to do it when you put on the pads and you're going against live bullets, and he hasn't proven that thus far in his career.

"So [he's] certainly a good guy to have on the squad. I don't think that hurts us in any way but it'll be interesting to see how it all evolves. Of course, I don't have a crystal ball, but I'm rooting for Brock Purdy to be 100 percent. Let's just see how these guys compete in training camp. It's going to be a day-in-and-day-out scenario."

Purdy started some limited throwing last week, and all signs point to his recovery going just as the 49ers hoped. That has Jones excited about his potential availability for Week 1.

"I think Brock had it going last year, and I was really impressed with the young man," said Jones. "And obviously it sounds like from everything I hear behind the scenes, he's progressing very well."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Jones below.


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