NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

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

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, with coach Kyle Shanahan saying Tuesday afternoon that Purdy will begin throwing next week.

"We're hoping for Week 1," Shanahan said about Purdy's potential healthy return. "And we feel pretty optimistic about that."

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