The San Francisco 49ers signed veteran quarterback Sam Darnold to a one-year deal this offseason to compete with Trey Lance to be Brock Purdy’s backup. An NFL starter since he was drafted with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s the first time in Darnold’s career that he is not expected to be the team’s top quarterback. In a recent podcast appearance, Darnold was asked why he was willing to choose the 49ers over other opportunities that may have offered a clearer path to playing time. His answer reinforced that he believed the 49ers are too good of a situation for a quarterback to pass up.
“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. Great run game. I mean, whenever you can have a great run game as a quarterback, that’s always a comforting feeling. I think just with the certain weapons that they have, you know, Deebo, Aiyuk, George, obviously Christian, Juice, Jauan Jennings, like there’s so many guys you can go on and on.”
Beyond the supporting cast of on-field talent, Darnold also singled out head coach Kyle Shanahan and credited him for getting the most out of all of his players through his game planning, play design, and play calling.
“They’ve been there for so long, and Kyle’s been able to understand kind of what everyone does well, what they don’t do well, and I feel like every game plan he uses gets the most out of his guys,” Darnold said. “That’s a very good feeling as a quarterback, knowing that the coordinator is going to put everyone in the best position possible.”
Darnold may not have been a statistically better quarterback than Lance thus far in his career, but the former Panthers and Jets quarterbacks’ biggest fans will argue that his circumstances have been the driving force of those issues. After all, Darnold has spent the majority of his career with Adam Gase and Matt Rhule as his head coach. Time will tell if he can find more success in San Francisco.