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Sam Darnold's time with the Panthers comes to an end as he signs one-year deal with the 49ers

Sam Darnold started 17 games during his time in Carolina, going 8-9 in the process.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When former No. 3 pick Sam Darnold came to the Carolina Panthers in 2021, there was hope he could revitalize his career and get the team in the right direction.

Now, the Panthers have traded to get their own top pick and Darnold is headed to the San Francisco 49ers.

Darnold signed a one-year deal with the 49ers, according to Adam Schefter. San Francisco has been active in signing players familiar with Charlotte residents, trading for Christian McCaffrey during the 2022 NFL season and signing Statesville native Javon Hargrave to a massive four-year deal on Monday.

With Darnold, the 49ers now have added depth to a quarterback roster that includes the yet-to-be-proven Trey Lance and surprise rookie standout Brock Purdy. San Francisco's long-time starter Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.

Darnold spent two seasons with the Panthers, amassing an 8-9 record as a starter. He threw just 16 touchdowns to 16 interceptions in his 17 starts. 

After being chosen third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Darnold was looked upon to be the quarterback who could turn around the Jets' misfortunes. However, Darnold struggled with a weak supporting cast and was unable to find much success during his three seasons in New York.

The Panthers traded for Darnold in 2021 hoping they could get a stable answer at the quarterback position. The first Cam Newton era was behind them and Carolina was looking at either Teddy Bridgewater or PJ Walker to be their starter without the deal.

Instead, the Panthers looked at Darnold to get things going in the right direction.

And he did. At least at first.

The Panthers opened the 2021 NFL season with a 3-0 record which included an opening day victory over the Jets, Darnold's old team.

Then, the wheels fell off and the Panthers lost five of their next six games before Darnold suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for several weeks.

Newton was signed to fill in for Darnold but was unable to harness his All-Pro form from years past as the Panthers lost their last seven games.

Darnold finished 2021 with nine touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 2527 passing yards, and completed just 59.9% of his passes.

Carolina decided to get the one quarterback chosen ahead of Darnold in the 2018 draft before the 2022 season, Baker Mayfield. The Panthers traded for Mayfield and looked to set a quarterback competition between the two in the preseason.

Mayfield won the job as Darnold suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the first few months of the season. By the end of the year, Mayfield would be released, head coach Matt Rhule would be fired, and the Panthers would make a late charge for the division title.

Darnold first saw action in Week 12 against the Broncos, taking over for the struggling Mayfield and ineffective Walker. Despite taking most of the season to hit the field, Darnold played some of his best games as a Panther in the waning weeks of the 2022 season.

Darnold finished the 2022 season with a 4-2 record, seven touchdowns to three interceptions, and a paltry completion percentage of 58.6%. The four wins Darnold and interim head coach Steve Wilks pushed the team toward being in position for the division title if they could beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17. But the Panthers blew their chance after leading 21-10 in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost 30-24.

Some believed the Panthers would look to keep Darnold around for depth purposes. However, the two sides are now headed in different directions.

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