Shanahan hopes Purdy plays in 49ers-Bengals, confident in Darnold

Shanahan hopes Purdy plays in 49ers-Bengals, confident in Darnold originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — Coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers continue to hold out hope quarterback Brock Purdy will work his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol in order to be available to play Sunday.

But if Purdy is not available to face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 at Levi’s Stadium, backup quarterback Sam Darnold will have the opportunity to give the team some return on their offseason investment.

“I have as much confidence in Sam as I could have with someone that I haven't gone into a real NFL game with,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers signed Darnold at the outset of the NFL free agent signing period to a one-year contract that carries a salary cap hit of $5.1 million. Incentives were built into his contract that could double his pay for the season.

The decision to acquire Darnold came at a time when Purdy’s status was unknown after elbow surgery and Trey Lance was in the final stages of recovering from a fractured lower leg.

The 49ers were up-front all along that Purdy would be the starter when he got healthy.

Then, Darnold beat out Lance in training camp to earn the backup role. Rather than retain Lance as the No. 3 quarterback, the 49ers traded him to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2024 fourth-round draft pick.

“He was great in the offseason,” Shanahan said of Darnold. “He's been great here in these seven weeks so far and he's always ready to go.”

Darnold (2018) and Lance (2021) were both No. 3 overall draft picks.

Darnold’s experience of starting 55 NFL games showed — even if all that experience was not entirely successful experience.

Darnold, 26, was thought to have a better chance to remain sharp during the regular season even if his only practice time came while running the offensive plays of the 49ers’ upcoming opponent.

“He doesn't get many reps, as no backups do, but he does it well on the scout team,” Shanahan said. “He’s always good in the meetings.”

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Shanahan said Purdy has enough time to make his way through the five-step process in order to receive clearance to play on Sunday.

Purdy was able to take part in the team’s walk-through practice on Wednesday, during which the 49ers used their own offensive players to stand in defensive positions. In the periods that were not considered a walk-through, Darnold took all of the snaps with the 49ers’ first-team offense.

The 49ers are scheduled to practice on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.

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