Reporter Suggests 49ers Could Still Draft a Quarterback in 2024

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan could add a quarterback in the draft if Sam Darnold leaves in free agency.

While quarterback Sam Darnold gets his shot with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18, the franchise could look elsewhere for quarterback depth come April.

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows anticipates that Darnold will leave in free agency, and third-stringer Brandon Allen will move up to the main backup role. That leaves one door open for 2024, and the 49ers could attempt to strike gold right where they did in 2022.

“Who will be the third quarterback? Maybe they’ll draft one — perhaps late in the seventh round,” Barrows wrote.

San Francisco did just that two years and landed Brock Purdy with the final pick in the draft. Despite his initial Mr. Irrelevant status, Purdy turned into a starter and MVP candidate for the 49ers in the past two years.

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Quarterbacks who could be around that late include Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman, Washington State’s Cameron Ward, and Kentucky’s Devin Leary. That’s based on Pro Football Focus’ rankings, and all three bring different skill sets to the table.

Hartman threw for 2,689 yards and 24 touchdowns versus 8 interceptions for the Irish this season. He sat out the Tiger Sun Bowl last month, and if the 49ers take him, that would mark the first Irish quarterback taken by the Niners since Joe Montana.

Ward passed for 3,737 yards and 25 touchdowns versus 7 picks for the Cougars last fall. He fared well in the Pac-12 for two seasons after moving up from FCS Incarnate Word in 2022.

Leary faced the task of coming after Will Levis at Kentucky. It worked out for Leary amid 2,746 yards passing for 25 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions.

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If Darnold leaves in free agency, the 49ers might lose more in the quarterback room than on the field. Purdy talked about how Darnold, a six-year veteran, influenced him this season.

“A lot. Obviously, he has been a guy who has been here in this league for, I think it’s his sixth year now,” Purdy told reporters on Thursday. “Just the process, the routine, how to study, what he’s seeing with concepts and how he’s ran things before.”

“He’s been able to pour into me and help me out with that. In meetings, sort of just remind me of little things within plays,” Purdy added. “Especially before we get up, before the game starts, the night before, we go through all the plays, he, [QB] Brandon [Allen] and I.”

“He just does a great job with just the little things within the plays of, ‘hey, reminder on this play, this is where we’re going with this or that.’ He brings up these little things that are huge for me as a quarterback,” Purdy continued. “Obviously on the sideline and stuff, he’s bringing up just good things, tendencies that he’s seen on film that they could possibly do during the game and to not forget about. So, he’s done a tremendous job.”

“He’s a very selfless guy. He puts the team first. He’s for the room, not just about himself or anything like that. The dude is for the room and for this organization, so very thankful to have him,” Purdy concluded.