The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on their roster to open the 2022 NFL regular season.
As it turned out, they needed all three of those quarterbacks to reach the NFC Championship Game.
Then, they needed two more.
The reported agreement with veteran free-agent quarterback Sam Darnold appears to signal the 49ers again will devote three of their 53 roster spots to quarterbacks in 2023.
As the team found out on Jan. 29, you might need a fourth quarterback — or even a fifth — during the most important game of the season.
The 49ers and Darnold on Monday agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with $3.5 million guaranteed, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday. The deal also includes playtime and playoff incentives, per Pelissero.
That might look like a stiff price for a No. 3, but this is no typical situation.
The 49ers have some wiggle room because one of those quarterbacks, Brock Purdy, checks in with a cap figure of just $889,253.
Also, the 49ers felt the need to attract another quarterback on the high end of his spot on the depth chart because of the uncertain nature of their position.
Trey Lance figures to take offseason snaps with the first-team offense if, as expected, he receives full clearance after sustaining a season-ending fractured lower leg and ankle ligament damage in Week 2.
Purdy is coming off a remarkable eight-game stretch as the team’s starter after replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. On Monday, Garoppolo agreed to terms on big-money deal to become the Las Vegas Raiders' starter.
Purdy underwent significant elbow surgery on March 10. He sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament on the 49ers' sixth offensive play of the NFC Championship.
When the No. 4 quarterback, Josh Johnson, sustained a concussion early in the third quarter, the 49ers needed a fifth quarterback. Instead, the team had no choice but to ask Purdy to return to action -- completely torn elbow ligament and all.
If Purdy's recovery and physical therapy goes as hoped, he could be cleared to resume playing just before the start of the regular season.
Darnold, who turns 26 on June 5, comes to the 49ers with the idea of putting himself in position to salvage his career after entering the NFL in 2018 as the No. 3 overall draft pick of the New York Jets.
In 55 career starts (38 with the Jets, 17 with the Carolina Panthers), he experienced a victory just 21 times. He threw 61 touchdowns and 55 interceptions.
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If the 49ers’ bad luck with quarterback health continues, Darnold will have his best opportunity for success in order to set himself up for the future.
This is a win-win.
If there is ever a situation that calls for a team to pay a little extra to keep three quarterbacks to open the season, this is it.
And if there was ever a situation for a player such as Darnold to accept a No. 3 role instead of a possible backup situation on a lesser team, this is it.