49ers optimistic QB Brock Purdy will be healthy to start season opener

·4-min read

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy is set to resume throwing next week and the 49ers are optimistic he will be healthy enough after offseason elbow surgery to begin the season as the starter.

Purdy was on the field watching his teammates Tuesday at the Niners' first open practice of the offseason as he works his way back from the injury suffered in the NFC championship game last season.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Purdy can start throwing a football next week for the first time since undergoing surgery on March 10 and should be ready to practice in training camp and play when the season begins Sept. 10 in Pittsburgh.

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“We’re hoping for Week 1 and I feel pretty optimistic about that," Shanahan said. "That's what we're hoping for. ... Usually that doesn't mean that's the day he comes back. Usually you have to come back before that to make that goal, and that’s the goal we’re hoping for. I have no reason to think differently.”

Purdy said his arm is feeling good nearly three months into his rehabilitation and he is looking forward to resuming a throwing program next week — about a week earlier than initial projections.

But he's not ready to make predictions about his return to game action.

“To say I’m going to be ready by this time or this time, we’re not trying to label any kind of timeline like that. For sure, that’s a goal," he said of playing the opener. “You want to be ready for the season. If that’s the case, great.”

Purdy tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on the first drive of a 31-7 loss in the NFC title game against Philadelphia on Jan. 29.

He needed to wait more than a month to have surgery because of swelling in the elbow and now has been dealing with the grueling process of rehab and the unknowns about his recovery.

“It’s my first time going through a rehab from a surgery and all that,” he said. "It’s the offseason, so it is fine, doing the workouts and everything, getting back into it. But then once you see guys starting a practice and stuff like that and watching it’s like, man, you want to be out there for sure. That’s just the competitive side of it. But I’m still able to watch the film, be in the meetings, learn and grow.”

Purdy went from the last pick of the draft to the starter in the conference title game in an impressive rookie season for the 49ers. He won his first seven starts before the loss to Philadelphia in the conference title game.

Purdy threw for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the regular season and his 108 passer rating in the regular season and playoffs was the highest ever for a rookie with at least 200 passes.

That performance led to general manager John Lynch calling him the “leader in the clubhouse” in terms of being the starter, even though San Francisco had made a hefty investment when the Niners traded up to draft Trey Lance third overall in 2021.

Purdy said it would be “foolish” to put too much stock into those comments when there is so much work that needs to be done.

“We want to win a Super Bowl here, and that’s simple as that," he said. “So for me, I just do my job and everything else falls into place. I’m just trying to be present. I’m not trying to get caught up in rumors or what people were saying or anything like that. The fact that they say that, for sure I’m appreciative.”

Lance spent most of his rookie season on the bench and went down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 last season but is healthy now.

With Purdy just a spectator, Lance has gotten the time with the first-team offense on the first two days of practice with free agent acquisition Sam Darnold working with the second team.

Shanahan said that will likely flip at some point as he tries to get both quarterbacks time with the starters.

“They’ve had two days and I think they’ve done a great job,” Shanahan said. “We’re just putting our base stuff in on offense and defense, and it has been two real good days for them.”

NOTES: Among the players not on hand for the voluntary workouts were DE Nick Bosa, DT Javon Hargrave, LT Trent Williams, WR Deebo Samuel and WR Ray-Ray McCloud. ... CB Charvarius Ward and LB Dre Greenlaw were working on the side.

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