Darnold far better than Lance, can ‘push’ Purdy

San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Trey Lance (left) and Sam Darnold (right) walk off the field after a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Aug. 13, 2023, in Las Vegas.

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The pro-Sam Darnold drumbeat out of Santa Clara continues. The latest red-and-gold voice to praise Darnold: KNBR host and 49ers radio announcer Greg Papa.

“To me, Darnold is clearly a better player than Trey Lance. It’s not close,” Papa said Monday. “If they had to play a game, I think it’s Sam. And I think Sam can push Brock Purdy, honestly. They love Brock, and he processes fast. If Darnold gets this offense down, his throwing arm is elite. There is no doubt.”

It’s one thing to believe Darnold leads the race for the No. 2 slot on the depth chart over Lance — as many came away from Sunday’s loss thinking — but it’s another to think one preseason game is enough to indicate he can compete with the Niners’ guaranteed starter. (Kyle Shanahan recently said that Purdy “would have to melt in practice” to lose the job.)  


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Papa didn’t stop there. He spoke as if the Lance experiment were already over with and that the Niners would use the remainder of the preseason to decide whether the 23-year-old was even good enough to have the third-string job.

“Quarterbacks get hurt around here,” Papa said. “What if you lose Brock Purdy, and you lose Sam Darnold? Who do you trust playing for long stretches? Trey Lance or Brandon Allen? I think that’s what they’re assessing.”

Papa’s take comes on the heels of a bizarre week for him in Las Vegas. Fellow KNBR radio host John Lund went on an impassioned rant last Thursday calling out the Raiders for treating Papa poorly at their practice facilities. As Awful Announcing noted, a couple of Raiders reporters questioned whether the host’s experience was true, and the radio station has since scrubbed the clip of the rant from its social media channels.


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Papa’s latest comment is certainly less egregious, as evidenced by the fact that it’s still up online — for now, at least.


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