Option IV: Is this former 49ers QB good enough for the Rams?
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Sam Darnold did something that no 49ers quarterback had done in the past five seasons: He lost a regular season game to the LA Rams. That itself has endeared the guy to me in many ways. But let's focus on his attributes that could make him a solid backup quarterback for the team going forward.
Sam Darnold is about to enter his seventh NFL season and continues to search for a 'home' for his craft. He has competed for the New York Jets (3 seasons), the Carolina Panthers (2 seasons), and now the San Francisco 49ers (1 season). Years ago, when he faced the Rams in 2020, I understood that he was in the last year of playing for the Jets.
I got that correct. But I overestimated the Jets draft strategy, and underestimated his trade value in the 2021 offseason. The Jets ended up getting three draft picks for Darnold, a huge cache of value for an NFL quarterback that had struggled up to that point.
Since I imagined that he would be a fit for the team years ago, does that apply in 2024? Well, maybe.
Darnold has continued to play quarterback in the NFL with some success. And at 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds, he does have all of the physical dimensions necessary to play at the position. Still, over his NFL career, he has not exhibited the ability to play consistently enough to pilot an NFL offense. In 66 games and 56 starts, he has completed 1,082 of 1,811 passes for 12,064 yards, 63 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. He can run with the football too, rushing 209 times for 760 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, but fumbling the football 38 times.
Much like Jameis Winston, ball security is a huge detractor.
Darnold's one-year $4.5 million contract expires at the end of this season. I can't see an offer over one-year at $3 million for 2024. Is that in the budget? Perhaps, but I think the Rams can do better in the 2024 NFL Draft.