The San Francisco 49ers named Sam Darnold their backup quarterback over Trey Lance, report Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
San Francisco signed Darnold to a one-year contract this year. He joined a quarterback depth chart headlined by 2022 seventh-round pick Brock Purdy, who took over as QB1 midway through last season. Purdy underwent elbow surgery during the offseason but is expected to play Week 1.
The 49ers’ decision leaves Lance’s future uncertain, as he’s failed to meet the high expectations since entering the NFL as the third overall pick in 2021. The 49ers traded up to select Lance that year in a deal that involved three of their first-round picks.
Lance started only two games as a rookie while backing up Jimmy Garoppolo for most of the campaign. The team named him starter for 2022, but an ankle injury in Week 2 ended his season prematurely. He started the preseason opener this year.
The 23-year-old wasn’t on the field Wednesday to start practice for the club’s final preseason game, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. Brandon Allen was San Francisco’s other option under center during practice.
The 49ers received inquiries about a potential trade involving Lance in April, but general manager John Lynch said at the time that they weren’t shopping the signal-caller. San Francisco will now explore its options ahead of the 2023 season, according to Rapoport.
Injuries ravaged the Niners’ quarterback room last year. Garoppolo – who replaced Lance after Week 2 – suffered a season-ending ailment of his own later on the season. Purdy took over but then sustained an elbow injury in the first quarter of the NFC title game, which ended with the Philadelphia Eagles claiming a 31-7 victory to advance to the Super Bowl.
Darnold, the 2018 No. 3 pick, spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He started six games in 2022, passing for seven touchdowns against three interceptions while completing 58.6% of his passes. The 26-year-old joined Carolina following a disappointing three-year stint with the New York Jets.
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