The 49ers needed a little quarterback insurance, and that’s exactly what they got.
San Francisco has signed former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 49ers have uncertainty at QB with both Brock Purdy and Trey Lance returning from injury, and needed at least one more body in their QB room heading into 2023.
Darnold’s deal is worth $4.5 million, and $3.5 million guaranteed, according to Tom Pelissero. As pointed out by Nick Wagoner, that’s a comparable deal to the one-year, $2.5 million deal that Mitch Trubisky signed with Buffalo two years ago. Like Darnold, Trubisky didn’t work out as a young starter, but is believed to have enough upside that he’s worth a few million to stash as a reserve.
Overall, the 49ers have very little money tied up in the QB position. In addition to Darnold’s $4.5 million, Trey Lance has a cap hit of $9.3 million in 2023, while Brock Purdy is owed less than $900,000.
Darnold is only 25 years old, but has already been considered a bust by many after flaming out with two teams. Darnold was hard to judge in New York on a terrible Jets team, and dealt with injuries during the last two seasons with the Panthers.
It should be noted that Darnold looked pretty good in the six games he started last season, winning four of them and posting a 93.6 QB rating that would be his career best if extended for a full season.
Though young, Darnold enters the 49ers QB room as the most experienced by far, playing for five seasons and starting 55 games. Trey Lance and Brock Purdy have 11 NFL starts combined.
Darnold will begin the year competing with Lance for the starting job as Purdy works his way back from elbow surgery. If worse comes to worse and both Purdy and Lance are unable to start at some point this season, Darnold provides them with a third option that is well seasoned.