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The NFL Draft is over so it’s officially time to start looking at next season. There are some potential roster adjustments still possibly in play, but we have a good idea of team makeups for 2023-24. And according to San Francisco 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco, the team loves having quarterback Sam Darnold on its roster.
The 49ers signed the former #3 overall pick to a one-year deal. With Brock Purdy recovering from Tommy John surgery and in doubt for the season’s start, the team wanted some insurance.
They still have Trey Lance, but he seems to have fallen way out of favor in the Bay Area.
Not to worry, though, says Maiocco. Because now they have Sam Darnold.
“He might be — can I say this — the most talented thrower of the football that the 49ers have ever had,” Maiocco said of Darnold, according to KNBR.
“Let’s just put him in the very high echelon of guys who can just drop back in the pocket and throw the football. I think that he hasn’t really had any chance to succeed since his college days are over. I think he’s had four head coaches in five years, five offensive coordinators in five years. He’s a talented guy.”
Maiocco added that he spoke to San Francisco 49ers legend Frank Gore, another supporter of Darnold.
“Frank Gore popped his head in at the 49ers local pro day, and was like ‘You will be shocked at what you see from Sam Darnold,'” Maiocco said. “Frank Gore is a Sam Darnold guy. They spent one year together with the Jets, and he just felt like he didn’t have any chance to succeed.”
Sam Darnold, San Francisco 49ers great?
I hate to be this guy, but he did say EVER. The 49ers have no shortage of great quarterbacks in their history, most notably Joe Montana and Steve Young — two Hall of Famers.
I understand that Maiocco isn’t saying Darnold is a better quarterback than those two, but simply a better “thrower.” Obviously, a lot more goes into playing quarterback than just throwing the football.
But it’s a pretty big part. And it’s a part that Darnold hasn’t been exceptionally good at throughout his five-year NFL career.
He’s thrown nearly as many interceptions (55) as touchdown passes (61). His career completion percentage is below 60%.
Those aren’t numbers that scream great thrower of the football.
Now, Gore is correct. Darnold did not enter a great situation in New York, nor did he have much help in Carolina.
But if you’re going to call someone “the most talented thrower of the football that the 49ers have ever had” there has to be some modicum of success.
Look, it’s great the 49ers are backing their new guy. And he’s a guy they’re probably going to need, at least early in the season.
And he’s in the best position to succeed that he’s ever had in his NFL career. It won’t be surprising to see him play better than he has previously.
But let’s pump the brakes with the hyperbole.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak