SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Sam Darnold has won the backup quarterback job in San Francisco, signaling the possible end to Trey Lance’s tenure with the 49ers less than three years after the team traded three first-round picks to draft him.
A person familiar with the situation said the 49ers are “considering all options” on Lance following the news that came out Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not made any announcement about the backup quarterback or Lance’s future.
NFL Network first reported that Darnold had beaten out Lance for the backup job behind Brock Purdy.
Lance didn’t take part in practice on Wednesday with Purdy getting the first-team snaps, Darnold working with the second team and Brandon Allen getting the rest of the action.
If the 49ers move on from Lance before the start of his third season in the NFL, it would be a remarkable backtrack following the hefty investment they made in hopes of Lance becoming a franchise quarterback.
San Francisco traded three first-round picks and a third-rounder to Miami in 2021 to move up from No. 12 and draft the untested Lance third overall.
Lance started only 17 games at FCS-level North Dakota State before the Niners drafted him and he never got much of a chance to gain the experience he needed in the NFL.
He spent his rookie season backing up Jimmy Garoppolo, starting just two games as an injury replacement and being hampered by a finger injury on his throwing hand.
Lance was handed the starting job last season, but that lasted less than five quarters as he broke his ankle early in Week 2 and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
Purdy, taken with the last draft pick in 2022, came on late in the season and won his first seven starts to take over the starting role headed into this season.
San Francisco signed Sam Darnold in free agency after he flamed out with the Jets and Carolina after also being drafted third overall in 2018 by New York. Darnold ended up doing enough in practices and the first two preseason games to beat out Lance.
Lance has completed 56 of 102 passes in his brief NFL career for 797 yards, five TDs, three interceptions and an 84.5 passer rating. He also has rushed for 235 yards and one TD on 54 carries.
Lance got off to a shaky start this preseason but did lead two late scoring drives after coming on in relief of Purdy and Darnold the second half last week against Denver.
If the Niners can find a trade partner for Lance, his four starts will be the fewest for any quarterback for the team that drafted him in the top 5 in the common draft era. Jack Thompson started five games for Cincinnati after being taken third overall in 1979.