Purdy, Lance focused on recovery, not 49ers' QB situation

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 1, 2023

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As they head into an offseason full of quarterback uncertainty, the one thing the San Francisco 49ers know for sure is that they have two signal-callers -- Brock Purdy and Trey Lance -- under contract and recovering from injuries.

As of Tuesday, the Niners have a good idea of when one will return, while the other is still, to some degree, up in the air.

Purdy suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-7 NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. An MRI on Monday revealed the tear but Purdy said Tuesday that he is still unsure of which direction his recovery will go. He had more imaging scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

"There's different options in terms of letting it recover, surgery, all these different types of surgeries -- repair versus reconstruction -- so we still haven't come to a conclusion about any of that," Purdy said. "[I'm] working with our medical team now and we're still trying to come to a conclusion on what I have to do.

"But there's literally nothing that I know yet for sure that is set in stone."

Purdy and the Niners hope he will be able to have a surgical UCL repair augmented with an InternalBrace to help reinforce the ligament as it heals. The timeline for recovery from that operation -- as opposed to Tommy John surgery, which entails full reconstruction with a tendon graft -- would allow Purdy to be back in about six months.

If Purdy could recover on that timeline, he would be ready around the start of training camp.

Purdy said Tuesday, two days removed from the injury, that the elbow is still swollen but feels normal when he is stationary. When he is walking or picking something up, he still feels pain.

With the injury still bothering him, Purdy said he and coach Kyle Shanahan did not discuss the team's plan for quarterback in 2023. Instead, they focused on how to get him as healthy as possible for next season.

"For me, I just wanted to win at all costs," Purdy said. "That was still my mindset was just to win and let everything else fall into place. So, for me to claim or say anything in terms of what's going to happen moving forward, that's out of my control. I'm going to do what I can to get healthy and be ready to compete come fall."

As for Lance, there is a realistic expectation he will be ready to go when the Niners begin organized team activities in May. He is supposed to have the walking boot removed from his broken right ankle at the end of this week and has already begun doing some impact training on his foot underwater.

Following a second surgery on the ankle at the beginning of January, Lance said he has better range of motion and is feeling much better. He is expected to be cleared for football activities in three to three and a half weeks. That should lead to him being available for most of the offseason program.

"I plan on being 100 percent far before OTAs," Lance said. "I feel like I'm in a really good spot."

Lance plans to remain in the Bay Area until he is cleared, at which point he will decide where to train this offseason. Like Purdy, Lance said he isn't thinking much now about how San Francisco's quarterback situation will play out but he did acknowledge it's likely to be a big offseason storyline yet again.

"I'm sure it will be a whole story again this year for you guys so I'm super excited for that," Lance said, laughing. "But I'm excited to get back out there, excited to compete."

One other significant piece of offseason business the Niners will have to take care of is signing defensive end Nick Bosa to a lucrative contract extension.

Bosa is heading into the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and is poised to become the highest-paid defensive player in league history. He also knows that he -- like tight end George Kittle, linebacker Fred Warner and receiver Deebo Samuel did -- might have to wait a bit before anything can get done. Those contracts were agreed to and signed in July or August.

"I'm definitely going to have patience and probably not worry about it for some time," Bosa said. "I'll just enjoy my time off and get ready to roll next year.

"I'd love to be here for sure. This is a great organization, they treat me as good as you can and I have amazing relationships here, so hopefully."

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