Darnold focused on learning system, not place on depth chart


There is uncertainty surrounding who will be under center for the 49ers in Week 1 of the 2023 season, but Sam Darnold simply is excited to get to work. 

The newly-signed 49ers quarterback spoke to local Bay Area media on Thursday and explained why his place on the depth chart is not something he is worrying about at the moment. For now, Darnold is going to focus on learning Kyle Shanahan’s extensive playbook. 

“I think for me it’s really coming in here and doing everything that I can to understand the offense,” Darnold said. “I know I have my work cut out for me when it comes to that. I think that’s just my focus now. Doing whatever I can to help this team win games.” 

Darnold has not met Trey Lance or Brock Purdy since signing with the team, but did meet with both Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Brian Griese. Both coaches and the team personnel made signing with the club an easy decision for the 25-year-old quarterback. 

Lance is returning from a second procedure after suffering a season-ending foot injury in Week 2 of the 2022 season. Purdy will not be able to practice until early September after undergoing surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) on March 10th. 

None of this matters to Darnold, who simply wants to do anything he can to help the team win. 

“I think there are some unknowns with Brock’s injury and with Trey coming back.” Darnold explained. “Those are things that with a good quarterback room, as long as we stick together, and we understand that we need to continue to work hard, and put the best foot forward for each other, that everything is going to work out.”  

The 49ers' offense is set to succeed with playmakers at every position, and Darnold particularly is familiar with one of them. Running back Christian McCaffrey and Darnold were teammates with the Carolina Panthers until the All-Pro running back was traded to San Francisco. 

One thing Darnold has in common with McCaffrey and his fellow quarterbacks in the Bay Area is the mindset. 

“I think at the end of the day as long as we are winning games, that’s the only thing that matters to me,” Darnold added. “As I continue to get to know Trey and Brock, and talking to people about those guys, it seems to me that all they care about is winning as well."

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Darnold is not much older than Lance or Purdy but has significantly more game experience. The former New York Jets No. 3 pick has appeared in 56 games, 55 as a starter with a record of 21-34 throughout his five-year career. The USC product has a 59.7 percent career completion percentage with 61 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. 

“Obviously as a competitor, you want to play,” Darnold said. “But at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for the team, and you leave those decisions up to Kyle and we know that he is going to put the best guy out there and do the right thing. 

“We just need to go out there and win. The last thing that I’m worried about right now is play time.”  

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