Darnold’s departure from New York leaves the Jets without a starting signal caller and cements what was speculated all along – they’re drafting a quarterback.
This was likely the case even if Darnold stayed, but his presence left some wiggle room for shenanigans at the second pick. Perhaps a team blew the Jets away with an offer to move up ahead of the 49ers, or maybe they could draft a non-quarterback to try and improve the roster around Darnold. Those scenario were long shots, but they were on the table as long as Darnold was around.
Instead, New York opted to leave no doubt. They sent Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a trio of draft picks. They’ll draft a quarterback after the Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence, and the 49ers will have their choice of three quarterbacks.
There’s still some uncertainty at No. 2 though that could throw a wrench into the top of the draft. BYU QB Zach Wilson is widely expected to go No. 2 overall. If the Jets pass on him, there could be some chaos either at No. 3 or after. While most of the uncertainty is gone, just enough remains that the second pick will still come with some intrigue for the 49ers.