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Sam Darnold on 49ers early impressions, George Kittleā€™s haunted house

Jul 12, 2023 at 11:20 AM--

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Sam Darnold was one of several quarterbacks that helped out at Tight End University last month. The San Francisco 49ers signed him as a free agent in March. Darnold is competing with Trey Lance, who also threw at TEU, for the QB2 job behind Brock Purdy. During the event, the veteran quarterback took some time to sit down with the "Pardon My Take" podcast to discuss his four months with the Niners and some paranormal activity.

49ers first impressions

The 49ers signed Darnold to a one-year deal. The quarterback has been scrambling to learn head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense as quickly as possible, hoping to prove the signing was the right choice.

Darnold has started 55 games in his five NFL seasons since the New York Jets made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2018. He hasn't seen a lot of success during that time. In his defense, he hasn't been a part of the type of juggernaut roster like the one he now has in Santa Clara.

Joining the 49ers is a bit of a homecoming for the California native, who spent all of his previous NFL seasons on the East Coast.

"It's nice to be on the West Coast again, I can't lie, by my family," Darnold said. "It's like a 45-minute flight down to Orange County, so that's really nice for my parents to be able to come on up for games super easily."

Darnold attended San Clemente High School in Orange County and played college football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The NFL Draft uprooted him from familiar surroundings, and the quarterback is happy to at least return to the same state.

Then you have the 49ers themselves. Darnold had choices as he entered free agency. However, the appeal of what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have built over the years was too good to turn down.

"And then, obviously, the organization, man, this past year was my first time hitting free agency," Darnold shared. "So kind of the first time I had a choice, really, and to be able to just see what their organization is like, that offense is like.

"And just the culture that's set in that locker room by great dudes and guys that—obviously, it's a profession, it's a business, and they take it very serious. But at the same time, I feel like they do a great job of kind of having fun, but also mixing that with being able to lock in on the field and do your work when you need to do it."

If Darnold does get on the field this season, he will have more offensive weapons around him than at any point during his NFL career. And it's not just the talent that has the 26-year-old quarterback excited about the possibilities; it's the system.

"Guys are open. I mean, there's a lot of guys open on dang near every play," Darnold said. "It just seems like there's a ton of answers (to why he chose the 49ers). Great run game. I mean, whenever you can have a great run game as a quarterback, that's always a comforting feeling.

"And I think, just with the certain weapons that they have, [WR] Deebo [Samuel], [WR Brandon] Aiyuk, [TE] George [Kittle], obviously, [RB] Christian [McCaffrey], [FB Kyle Juszczyk], [WR] Jauan Jennings. There's so many guys. You can go on and on.

"But they've been there for so long, and Kyle's been able to understand what everyone does well, what they don't do well. And I feel like every game plan, he uses and gets the most out of his guys, and that's a very good feeling as a quarterback, knowing that the coordinator is going to put everyone in the best position possible."

Kittle's haunted pool house

When Darnold joined the 49ers, he needed to find someplace to live. His new teammate, tight end George Kittle, offered up his pool house until the quarterback found a place. Darnold accepted. Although, at times, it felt like he wasn't living there alone.

"There was something going on," the quarterback shared. "That's not why I moved out. I moved out because I had already spent a week there, but that didn't help."

A big deal was made of a mic'd up Darnold saying that he was "seeing ghosts" during a rough outing against the New England Patriots in 2019. He didn't actually visually see any paranormal activity at the Kittle residence. However, he felt something.

"It was crazy, though, man. I never had anything like that happen to me before," Darnold said. "I'm talking about, I guess, both the New England game and at George's house. No, but it was crazy, man. I woke up, and you know how sometimes you have a dream, and then you wake up, and you feel like you can't move for like, maybe four or five seconds, whatever it is? And I felt that, and I woke up. It was like 3 a.m. Went to go take a pee and came back, fell right asleep.

"And then that next night, the night after that, the same thing happened, and I had to keep focusing on this thing in the corner. There was something else in the room. ... It was very creepy, and I had never dealt with anything like that before. And I know a couple of people who have had situations where there have been, whether it was an old Civil War place where now there's a hotel or a dorm, and people have certain experiences with that, but it was just super, super weird.

"And it just felt like when I woke up, there was something, like, holding on to me. And then that next night, I felt that something was in the room with me. And it was the freakiest thing. I'm getting chills talking about it right now. But that's never happened to me before."

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