Sam Darnold

Shanahan ‘happy' with Darnold's performance in first 49ers start

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Kyle Shanahan was more than satisfied with backup quarterback Sam Darnold’s performance in San Francisco's 21-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

When asked what he thought of Darnold’s first start of the season against the Rams, the 49ers coach said Darnold did a lot of good things.

“He made a number of plays out there he did a great job of scrambling, he was awesome on his sneaks, the quarterback draw.” Shanahan told reporters after the loss. “I think he moved the chains one other time with his legs, made some big throws. I know that last play was unfortunate, just stepping up in the pocket there and those guys coming from behind him with the fumble, but I was happy with Sam today.”

Darnold started in place of Brock Purdy, who sat out this game along with some other prominent starters, and looked comfortable in leading the 49ers' offense, completing 16 of 26 passes for 189 yards with one touchdown pass for a 96.5 passer rating.

The only blemish on the day for Darnold occurred during the 49ers' final drive late in the fourth quarter, when he was hit from behind and fumbled the ball, allowing the Rams' defense to recover and effectively end the game.

San Francisco led for most of the game but struggled on special teams, with Jake Moody missing an extra point and a field goal as the Rams ultimately won the contenst by a single point.

While the 49ers already had locked in the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed before the game, there was plenty on the line for Darnold -- not only in terms of a big payday, but also in terms of demonstrating that he is still an NFL-caliber QB. Darnold struggled mightily after the New York Jets selected him No. 3 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

In his first season with the 49ers, Darnold has served as the primary backup QB, developing a close relationship with Purdy.

Despite Sunday's narrow loss to the Rams, San Francisco still owns the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye with home-field advantage in the playoffs.

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