49ers' Lance-Darnold backup QB decision will come just before Week 1

49ers' Lance-Darnold backup QB decision will come just before Week 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — The competition is winding down for the 49ers to determine their backup quarterback for the start of the regular season.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he expects to decide and reveal the identity of Brock Purdy’s backup before the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, Sept. 10.

But, even then, the team’s No. 2 could change throughout the year, he said.

Sam Darnold and Trey Lance continue to split practice time in the competition to serve as the backup.

At this point, it seems likely both will be on the 49ers’ 53-man roster. One will be the backup; one will serve as the emergency third quarterback.

Both will get one final chance to play in front of fans on Friday night when the 49ers close out the preseason against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi’s Stadium.

Lance had a strong showing Saturday night in leading the 49ers on three consecutive scoring drives to pull out a 21-20 win over the Denver Broncos in the second preseason game.

A year ago, Lance was the unquestioned starter. Although he is clearly a better player now, he is currently in a battle to open the season as the backup.

Lance did not have an opportunity to improve last season through playing experience. He sustained a season-ending fractured lower leg in the second game of the season.

“But I think he made a positive out of it, because mentally he really saw what he had to improve on just watching other guys go through it,” Shanahan said. “And I think he did improve on that stuff before he came back.”

Lance worked on his throwing mechanics in the offseason and is delivering the ball more accurately than in the past.

Darnold also looks this summer as if he can be a quality backup after struggling through his first five NFL seasons with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers.

Shanahan sees plenty of signs that lead him to believe he can translate his physical tools into productive play in the 49ers’ offensive system.

“Just his command, getting in and out of the huddle, where he is now compared to Day 1,” Shanahan said. “He’s been real consistent in everything. Each day he’s done it, he’s gotten better and better.”

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