Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) scrambles against the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Brock Purdy in concussion protocol

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Brock Purdy is in the concussion protocol after experiencing symptoms postgame Monday.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that Purdy began having symptoms on the plane ride back from Minnesota, a 22-17 loss on “Monday Night Football.”

Backup QB Sam Darnold will take first-team reps, though Purdy is allowed to participate in some portions of Wednesday’s walkthrough, Shanahan said. It’s possible, however, that Purdy can clear the protocol ahead of Sunday’s game against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals (3-3).

“He does have enough time,” Shanahan said. “Just has to go through the process.”

Purdy played the entire game against the Vikings, and Shanahan said it’s unclear when exactly Purdy might have suffered the injury.

Purdy threw for 272 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the loss. Purdy is completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,668 yards, 11 TDs and three interceptions on the season.

The 49ers signed Darnold, the 2018 draft’s No. 3 overall pick, as a free agent in March. He beat out Trey Lance for the backup position during training camp. He’s appeared in four games this season in mop-up duty. He’s 21-34 in his career as a starter.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Sam Darnold winning 49ers QB derby

Sam Darnold could be the surprise winner of the ongoing quarterback derby in San Francisco, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Though organized team activities are just beginning with minicamp and training camp ahead, Darnold is reportedly distancing himself from Trey Lance. The status of Brock Purdy is fluid as he recovers from offseason elbow surgery.

Darnold is making a “push” to start with Purdy’s recovery up in the air, ESPN reported. Darnold signed a one-year deal with the team on the same day Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders.

That Darnold could be competing to start mirrors sentiment shared by 49ers radio play-by-play announcer Greg Papa on Monday.

“If Sam Darnold gets a chance to play, he could be Brock Purdy of 2023,” Papa said.

Darnold and running back Christian McCaffrey were teammates at Carolina in 2021 and for six games last season.

What’s not clear: where Lance stands with the 49ers.

San Francisco GM John Lynch dubbed rumors of trade talks involving Lance as “a lot of smoke,” and added the team expects to keep him.

Lance was the starter to open the 2022 season. He needed two surgeries on his right ankle in a span of three months — one in late December to remove surgically implanted hardware inhibiting his movement — and has played eight games in the past three years. That includes going 2-2 as a starter for the 49ers while completing 54.9 percent of his career NFL passes, with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

“We are focused on his ability to compete and play an integral role on this team,” Lynch said of Lance last month.

Darnold lost a competition with Baker Mayfield to start for the Carolina Panthers in 2022 and was on the shelf with an ankle injury most of last season. He was traded to the Panthers from the New York Jets.

Darnold started six games in 2022 upon his return from injury, throwing for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

In 56 career games (55 starts) with the Panthers and Jets, Darnold has thrown for 11,767 yards, 61 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. He has also scored 12 rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Sam Darnold to sign 1-year deal with 49ers

Quarterback Sam Darnold will sign a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN and The Athletic reported Monday.

The deal cannot be made official until Wednesday, the first day of the new league year.

The 49ers agreed to terms with Darnold the same day that longtime Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reportedly agreed to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

San Francisco also has young guns Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, but both will be coming off surgeries in 2023. Lance was the team’s starter at the outset of the 2022 season before an ankle injury; Purdy became a folk hero for taking over after Lance and Garoppolo went down, winning every start until he, too, was injured during the NFC Championship game.

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, played three years with the New York Jets and two years with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers traded for Darnold from the Jets in April 2021 and picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which expired following the 2022 season.

Darnold failed to hold down the starting position in Carolina. He lost a quarterback competition with Baker Mayfield after the Panthers traded for him last August; he then suffered an ankle injury during a preseason game that caused him to miss more than two months.

Due to Mayfield’s and PJ Walker’s ineffectiveness, Darnold started six games upon his return from injury, throwing for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

In 56 career games (55 starts) with the Panthers and Jets, Darnold has thrown for 11,767 yards, 61 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. He has also scored 12 rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) watches from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers release QB Baker Mayfield

The Carolina Panthers waived erstwhile starting quarterback Baker Mayfield at his request on Monday.

Mayfield will hit the waiver wire later in the day, and positioning for the former No. 1 overall pick could be intriguing with subplots aplenty.

The move comes as the Panthers (4-8) come out of their bye week.

The Panthers play at Seattle this week and it’s not clear who will be the starter — Sam Darnold or PJ Walker. Darnold made his season debut as the starter in Carolina’s Week 12 game against Denver, leading the Panthers to a win while throwing for 164 yards and a score.

Mayfield, 27, started six of the seven games he played in this season, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards and six touchdowns against six interceptions.

Mayfield was in his first season in Carolina, which acquired him from Cleveland in July for a 2024 conditional fifth round pick. The pick will remain a fifth-rounder since Mayfield didn’t play 70 percent of the team’s snaps at QB. The Panthers paid $5 million of Mayfield’s fifth-year option while the Browns paid about $10.5 million. Mayfield agreed to cut the remaining $3 million-plus off his fifth-year salary to facilitate the trade.

Mayfield is 30-35 as a starting QB in 65 starts as an NFL quarterback since being selected No. 1 by the Browns in 2018. He’s thrown for 98 TDs and 62 INTs for his career.

The Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams all stand in front of the 49ers in the waiver order and could make a claim to block division-leading San Francisco from picking up Mayfield. The 49ers have lost quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries.

The Rams sit fourth in the current waiver order. They are likely without quarterback Matthew Stafford (spinal contusion, concussion) with a 3-9 record and parted with their 2023 first-round draft choice in the Stafford deal with the Detroit Lions. The Houston Texans, also unsettled at the position, are No. 1 in the waiver order.

A team claiming him would owe Mayfield $1.3M for the rest of this season. He would become an unrestricted free agent if he goes unclaimed.

Arizona has a 4-8 record coming out of a Week 13 bye. Before the draft, the Cardinals were among teams to host Mayfield, who met with general manager Steve Keim. Arizona underwent a rapidly spun quarterback carousel and changed coaches, picking Josh Rosen in the same draft the Browns selected Mayfield. But after the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury in 2019 as head coach, they reset the depth chart again by selecting Kyler Murray No. 1 in 2019.

Kingsbury and Mayfield have a complicated history from their time as coach-QB at Texas Tech. The friction pushed Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma, where he won the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield said in 2019 the two patched out their friction-filled relationship, which might open the door to the Cardinals claiming him for the final month of the season.

San Francisco leads the NFC West but Garoppolo is out the rest of the season after suffering a broken foot on Sunday. Brock Purdy is currently QB1 for the Niners.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) scores a touchdown while defended by Buffalo Bills cornerback Jordan Miller (32) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to start Sam Darnold at QB vs. Broncos

The Carolina Panthers plan to start Sam Darnold at quarterback in Sunday’s Week 12 contest against the visiting Denver Broncos.

Darnold has yet to play this regular season after going down with an ankle sprain late in the preseason. He was activated off injured reserve to resume practice in October.

Darnold will be the third different player to start at quarterback this year for Carolina (3-8), following Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker. According to the Panthers, interim coach Steve Wilks made the decision Tuesday and informed Darnold and his fellow quarterbacks.

Mayfield started the first five games, then returned to the lineup after recovering from an ankle injury. Walker started Weeks 6-10 and went down with his own ankle injury.

Mayfield went 21 for 33 for 196 yards and two interceptions on Sunday in a 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

In 2021, his first season in Carolina after a trade from the New York Jets, Darnold played in 12 games (11 starts) and completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The former No. 3 overall draft pick from 2018 missed five games with a shoulder injury.

–Field Level Media

Aug 13, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) participate in warmups prior to the game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers undecided on QB1 for Week 12

Interim head coach Steve Wilks said the Panthers are not ready to name a starting quarterback for Week 12.

Wilks was still smarting from Sunday’s 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens when he met with media on Monday. The Panthers and Ravens were tied 3-all most of the fourth quarter, but three turnovers late in the game handed the Ravens a victory.

“It’s tough to say right now,” Wilks said of how the Panthers can fix the offense.

There will be no official word from the Panthers (3-8) until Wednesday, Wilks said, adding that he plans to use time to review film before picking a starter to face the Denver Broncos (3-7) this week.

Mayfield started the first five games, then returned to the lineup after recovering from an ankle injury to replace P.J. Walker. Walker went down with his own ankle injury but multiple reports indicate there are veterans in Carolina pushing to give Sam Darnold a shot. Darnold was on injured reserve with an ankle issue until he resumed practice in October.

Mayfield was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter, once on a tipped pass, and said the answer is only found when looking beyond the team’s record.

“Look at how we’re losing. You have to fix those things,” Mayfield said. “It’s like (Hall of Fame coach Bill) Parcells said, you have to learn how to stop beating yourself before you learn how to win. Right now, I think today’s a pretty good example of that. We have to fix a lot of our own mistakes before we can even be in a position to win.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Trainers attend to Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers fire two assistants, activate QB Sam Darnold from IR

Two assistant coaches were fired and Sam Darnold was activated from injured reserve and returned to practice — and a crowded but unclear quarterback depth chart — on Monday.

The Panthers (2-7) made the moves following a 42-21 defeat Sunday in which Baker Mayfield entered in relief of PJ Walker, who was pulled in a dismal showing against the Bengals (5-4).

The Panthers fired cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni on Monday. Carolina was scorched for a season-worst 464 yards and 241 rushing yards against Cincinnati and has three days to get ready for Thursday’s visit from the Atlanta Falcons (4-5).

Darnold, 25, was hobbled by an ankle injury in the preseason finale against Buffalo on Aug. 26. He returned to practice on Oct. 19.

Mayfield won the starting job in training camp but had been sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Walker performed well until Sunday, when he was pulled after throwing two interceptions with a 0.0 quarterback rating after completing 3 of 10 passes for nine yards.

Mayfield had two TD passes and went 14 of 20 for 155 yards.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) warms up prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers sticking with P.J. Walker at QB

P.J. Walker will remain the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in Week 9.

Panthers head coach Steve Wilks made the announcement Monday, a decision that again relegates Baker Mayfield to the bench.

Wilks said Mayfield has been a “ultimate, ultimate pro” over being benched.

Walker is 1-2 as the starter for the Panthers, who are 2-6 heading into their Week 9 game at Cincinnati.

Walker nearly rallied the Panthers to an unlikely victory Sunday in Atlanta. Walker hooked up with a diving DJ Moore for a 62-yard touchdown heave with 12 seconds left in regulation. However, an unsportsmanlike penalty on Moore contributed to a longer extra-point kick that was off the mark and kept the game tied at 34-34.

The Panthers lost in overtime as Eddy Pineiro missed a 32-yard field goal and the Falcons kicked the winning FG with 1:55 left. Wilks said the Panthers are sticking with Pineiro and have no plans to bring in a kicker this week.

Walker, 27, is completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 614 yards, with three touchdowns against one interception. The former XFL player is making $895,000 this season.

Mayfield, with a contract worth as much as $18.86 million this season, was 1-4 with 962 passing yards to go with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Last year’s starter, Sam Darnold, is in the 21-day practice window to be activated to the 53-man roster. He was designated for return from injured reserve on Oct. 19. Wilks said he will continue to be evaluated.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) attempts a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

QB P.J. Walker likely to remain starter in Week 8

Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker has apparently earned another start after beating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Interim coach Steve Wilks told reporters on Monday that Walker will likely be the starter in Week 8 — even if Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are recovered from their ankle injuries.

“As of right now, I don’t see a reason not to (start Walker),” Wilks said.

The Panthers (2-5) visit the Atlanta Falcons (3-4) on Sunday afternoon.

Walker completed 16 of 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the 21-3 victory over the Buccaneers.

Walker, 27, has thrown for 297 yards on 31-of-44 passing with two scores and no picks in three games (two starts) this season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is forced from the pocket by the Buffalo Bills defense during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers QB Sam Darnold carted off with apparent ankle njury

Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold was carted off the field after sustaining an apparent left ankle injury in the third quarter of the Panthers’ preseason finale against the visiting Buffalo Bills on Friday.

Darnold was in the process of throwing an incomplete pass when Bill defensive tackle C.J. Brewer pulled the quarterback down, causing Darnold’s left ankle to twist unnaturally under Brewer’s weight.

The injury ends a preseason in which Darnold lost a battle for the Panthers’ starting job to Baker Mayfield.

On Friday, Mayfield played Carolina’s first four offensive series, throwing two touchdown passes. He completed 9 of 15 passes for 89 yards.

Darnold entered in the second quarter and connected on 5 of 11 passes for 49 yards. He also ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The Panthers led 21-0 at the time of Darnold’s exit.

Darnold, 25, broke into the NFL with the New York Jets, who made him the third overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Southern California. He went 13-25 in three years as the Jets’ primary starter, then was traded to Carolina in April 2021.

Last season, Darnold finished 4-7 as a starter for the Panthers, connecting on 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 12 overall games.

In 50 career NFL games (49 starts), Darnold has a 59.8 percent completion rate for 10,624 yards, 54 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.

–Field Level Media