One of the early surprises of NFL free agency included the San Francisco 49ers picking up another quarterback, as they agreed to terms with former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold on a one-year deal.
With Brock Purdy and Trey Lance on roster, the 49ers weren't necessarily desperate for another quarterback, but head coach Kyle Shanahan is high on Darnold, claiming at the NFL owners meeting that he, "has as good of a skillset as there is."
"That's why he went as the third pick in the draft," Shanahan said, via Pro Football Talk. "When you study his play, you can see it too. I don't think he's always been in the best situations, which is tough for quarterbacks. It's tough for all players, but it is one position, and it depends on the other 10 guys around you, too.
"And I think Sam has played and done some really good things in this league, but hasn't won a ton of games and been thrown in some situations where you're going to keep both teams in the game because you got to keep slinging that ball and give your team a chance to win. And so, you don't always have the best stats, but you see the ability. And he's always had that ability since his first year in college when we started watching him, and there's no reason he can't do it."
Darnold was traded from the New York Jets to the Carolina Panthers in 2021. Some believed a change of scenery would do well for Darnold, but he struggled in his first season in Charlotte, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions while going 4-7 as the starter.
After being injured in the preseason last year, Darnold didn't get his first action in 2022 until Week 12, when he was named the new starter. Darnold went 4-2, and threw for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns and just three interceptions. It was an impressive run, as he had Carolina in position to potentially steal the division from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
General manager John Lynch told reporters this week that Purdy, Lance and Darnold will compete for the starting job in 2023. Darnold may be the longshot in this competition, but it's clear that the 49ers organization sees potential in him.