Rumors about the availability of Sam Darnold in the trading market are getting louder as the new league year and the NFL draft approaches. The 49ers were tied to a potential Darnold deal in various hypothetical deals, but nothing material was reported about San Francisco’s interest in the quarterback.
If they thought about such a move, it wouldn’t be cheap.
NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote in his Football Morning in America column that there was league interest in Darnold, which would cost at least a high second-round selection.
From the king:
No team in the next 14 months has a better design situation than the Jets. They currently own a decent piece of quarterback property in Sam Darnold. He’s worth at least a good second round pick on this draft – 39th overall to Carolina, maybe 40th to Denver, or 43rd to San Francisco. (The 49ers are my personal favorite.)
The 49ers make sense as a landing site for Darnold, as much of the former number 3’s three years’ fighting with the jets may be due to organizational errors in his environment. San Francisco has an infrastructure as well as head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive program that would potentially lead Darnold to a higher level of play than he has achieved so far in his career.
On the flip side, a second round move means for him that the team would likely aim for him to start this season as he is in the final year of his rookie deal. Using a second round pick for a backup that could stay in the free agency for the following year is likely not a prudent use of a premium pick for a team with as many holes as the 49ers.
We theorized that the club could make a mid-round selection for Darnold to bring him into the building as a backup and see what he could do in practice before offering an extension in the off-season . It would be worth a mid-round selection to see what Darnold looks like in Shanahan’s offense. A selection in the second round carries a much higher risk.
Ultimately, the 49ers will need to identify a player who can be their long-term answer if Garoppolo doesn’t step up his game or doesn’t stay healthy in 2021. If Darnold is that player, it makes sense to get him – also vote for a second round. However, if there are questions about him, the choice would be a better fit for a rookie without a track record of 38 NFL starts.