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Matt Maiocco discusses whether Sam Darnold could win starting job from Brock Purdy



© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Maiocco set the 49ers-sphere on fire on Thursday when he said Sam Darnold, “… might be most talented thrower of football the 49ers have ever had.”

Folks were, well, critical of that comment.

On Friday, Maiocco joined Papa and Lund to discuss those comments and how Darnold fits into the 49ers quarterbacking hierarchy.

He simultaneously doubled down on his comments while clarifying what he meant.

“I did not say the most talented quarterback,” Maiocco said. I said the most talented thrower of the football. I did not say he’s the best quarterback. That would be stupid. That would be wrong.”

While he said Joe Montana and Steve Young had excellent arm talent, he pointed out that their greatest skills were probably not arm talent.

Darnold, meanwhile, doesn’t have what they had.

“I guess you could almost say what I said about Sam Donald, it’s not necessarily complimentary because he does have this great arm talent and it just hasn’t worked through five seasons,” Maiocco said. “Many of the areas that I would highlight with Montana and Young — are far down on the list of attributes for Sam Darnold. I don’t know if he’s even going to get on the field with the 49ers.”

While he thinks there’s a scenario where Darnold doesn’t play, the quarterback situation is completely open-ended in Maiocco’s view.

He supported his arm talent, which is part of why he was drafted third overall in 2018, but said there’s a number of ways things could play out.

“My thought has always been that if it’s not Brock Purdy it’ll probably be Trey Lance,” Maiocco said. “Now, am I certain of that? No. Of course not. But I do think that Darnold is a better thrower of the football than Trey Lance. But Trey Lance also brings a lot more a lot different qualities to the equation.

I mean, I don’t know. Sam Darnold could be out there week one. He could be the third stringer week one. I don’t know how it’s going to take place, but I don’t think there’s any denying the guy’s a talented thrower of the football.”

That prompted Greg Papa to ask Maiocco if there’s a scenario where Darnold performs well in training camp and ends up taking the starting job from a healthy Brock Purdy at some point this season.

Would Maiocco be shocked if that happens?

“Yeah, I think it would [shock me], just because I think Brock Purdy is underrated,” Maiocco said. “He’s kind of sneaky good as far as the arm talent, but again he’s coming off this elbow injury.

“But what makes Brock Purdy, or certainly what made him such a good quarterback for the 49ers last season, was a combination of many things. It’s the anticipation. It’s the timing. It’s the improvisational skills. It’s just having a good feel for what Kyle Shanahan is trying to accomplish.”

General manager John Lynch joined KNBR on Thursday and said Purdy is about three-to-four weeks away from throwing. At that time, there should be a more concrete update on his recovery timeline.

Listen to the full interview above. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Catch Papa & Lund weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.