There’s no point in moving on from a quarterback if the guy replacing him isn’t better. Sure many Niners fans want the team to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, but it’s likely that a far smaller number would sing the same tune if the only other option is Jets quarterback Sam Darnold.
Darnold, 23, was ranked as the 37th most effective quarterback out of 40 qualifiers in 2020 by Pro Football Focus. That’s bad. He was 31st out of 37 and 29th out of 38 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. That’s also bad.
Still, there are reasons why teams might still be intrigued in Darnold, who is set to become a free agent next offseason when his rookie deal expires. For one, he’s only three years removed from being selected with the No. 3 overall pick. There is a reason he was picked that high. Darnold was good at just about everything at USC, and has elite NFL arm talent.
Darnold has also been stuck in a brutal situation in New York, a team that just fired head coach Adam Gase after a disastrous two-year stint. Darnold went 7-6 under Gase in 2019. The team was 0-3 without him. Maybe he deserves some credit there too.
Darnold’s resume will certainly affect his value when it comes being traded this offseason, something the Jets are reportedly exploring. That could make him a steal in the eyes of a team that believes he could be a success in their system. Does Kyle Shanahan believe that?
Who knows, but at least one respected film expert believes that Darnold would be an excellent fit in Shanahan’s system.
“I think he’d fit great, because Darnold is able to throw on the run extremely smoothly,” said Ted Nguyen, film expert for The Athletic, said on Papa & Lund last Thursday. “He can throw to the right and left on the run and he has a lot more arm talent than any of the guys on the Niners roster, so he has a really high ceiling. Obviously the turnovers are a big issue with Darnold, but we see some of the same issues with Garoppolo with turnovers and kind of just throwing the ball up in not high-reward situations.”
Darnold’s turnovers have been a consistent issue since he was in college. They’re an issue for Garoppolo too. In 2019, the good things Garoppolo did (mostly) overshadowed the turnover issues. For Darnold, that hasn’t been the case yet, but maybe Shanahan thinks he could work some magic.
“I think that exploring Darnold could be an interesting option in this offense for sure,” Nguyen concluded.
Listen to the full interview below.