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Frank Gore: ‘You will be shocked at what you see from Sam Darnold’

NBC Sports’ Bay Area’s Matt Maicco went as far as saying that Darnold does specific things better than both Brock Purdy and Trey Lance

2023 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

A trio of 49ers were courtside during Thursday night’s Golden State Warriors game, as George Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, and Sam Darnold were shooting spiderwebs with actor Tom Holland in San Francisco.

We’ve seen head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in the crowd, but we haven’t seen them interact with the players, which happened last night:

Because it’s not enough that Darnold and McCaffrey, former teammates, are just friends. Instantly, the “where is Trey?” crowd had a field day with these videos.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco had some ... interesting ... comments surrounding Darnold Thursday on KNBR:

“Sam Darnold might be....the most...can I say this? The most talented thrower of the football that the 49ers have ever had.”

That quote will trigger anybody who has watched football during the past 40 years. With or without context, the 49ers have fielded some incredible quarterbacks. John Brodie, Joe Montana, and Steve Young would like a word.

Maiocco continued and acknowledged that Frank Gore is also a fan:

“Okay. But let’s just put him in the very high echelon of those guys who can just drop back in the pocket and throw the football. I think that he hasn’t had really any chance to succeed since his college days were over. I think he’s had like four head coaches in five years, five offensive coordinators in five years. He’s a talented guy.

Heck, I was just talking to Frank Gore. Frank Gore popped his head in at the 49ers’ local pro day, and he was like, ‘You will be shocked at what you see from Sam Darnold.’

Frank Gore is a Sam Darnold guy because they spent one year together with the Jets, and he just felt like he just didn’t have any chance to succeed. The weapons he had, didn’t have much in the way of receivers. The coaching has just been a turnstile. He’s a really talented guy.”

We can nip this in the bud now. If Darnold were this transcendent player, he wouldn’t have gone through multiple coaching changes, nor would Darnold be on his third team in four years.

With that said, it’s understandable why Kyle Shanahan or any offensive mind would gravitate toward Darnold. He has a plus arm. He’s an above-average athlete who can create offense once the play breaks down. And Darnold is willing to throw the ball into tight spaces.

He’s a better fit for Shanahan’s offense than the Jimmy Garoppolo type, simply because Darnold brings more variance to the table. That can be true without going over the top with the praise.

Here’s more from Maiocco, this time, pointing out how Darnold does things better than Brock and Trey:

“How this whole thing shakes out, nobody knows, but he does things better than Brock Purdy. He does things better than Trey Lance. But also, Trey Lance and Brock Purdy do things better than him. And Brock Purdy has already had more success than both of those two guys combined.

Certainly, in talking to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, it is Brock Purdy’s job to lose. And all things being equal, Brock Purdy would be the starting quarterback Week 1 for the 49ers. However, all things aren’t equal. And so, that opens up a huge set of circumstances and what-ifs that we don’t know who’s going to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers Week 1.

And then, if it’s someone other than Brock Purdy, if that person just runs with it and plays great football, then how eager are the 49ers to make a change? It’s going to be another crazy season.”

As off the wall as the initial Purdy quote was, Maiocco reeled it back in the more he spoke. The unknown will once again make this season entertaining. To Matt’s point, there’s a strong chance that whoever starts the season hits the ground running and will make the decision to go back to Purdy difficult.

That’s what happens when the quarterback is surrounded by four or five eligible pass-catchers capable of scoring whenever they touch the football.