49ers eye training camp return for Brock Purdy after elbow surgery, GM John Lynch says
A viral photo surfaced over the weekend of Brock Purdy, with the 49ers quarterback wearing his boyish smile and a super-sized brace on his surgically repaired elbow.
Nothing unusual there.
Then came Monday’s surprising proclamation that Purdy’s road to recovery could see him participating in training camp, which begins in four months.
“Our hope is he’s ready to go for training camp,” general manager John Lynch told reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings in Phoenix.
“We’ll see how everything goes. We’re going to do what’s right for Brock, because that’s right for our organization,” Lynch added. “You know, be aggressive with what we do but also be really smart. We’re insulated with other guys we have a lot of belief in, so if Brock’s not ready, we’ll hold down the fort until he is.”
Purdy is the 49ers’ presumptive starting quarterback once he is healthy.
Lynch told reporters Monday that Purdy is expected to serve as this coming season’s starter, based on last season’s efforts.
“Brock has earned the right, with the way he played, that he’s probably the leader in the clubhouse at that,” Lynch added Monday. “I’ll let Kyle make those kind of decisions. But I know when we talk, Brock’s probably earned that right to be that guy, if we were to line up, he’d probably take that first snap.”
The only question is when Purdy’s right elbow will be healed enough to participate in practice and games.
Purdy is only 17 days removed from a career-saving procedure in which an internal brace repaired the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.
He’s not expected to resume throwing a football for three months. Full clearance is not expected until six months, which would extend his timeline into September, potentially aligning with the 49ers’ regular-season opener on Sept. 10 or 11.
Lynch, in an interview with this news organization last Wednesday at Stanford’s pro day, indicated that Purdy’s rehabilitation is just beginning in Arizona, where he’s being tended to by an arm-recovery specialist, along with occasional visits by the 49ers’ medical staff.
Coach Kyle Shanahan could expand on Purdy’s recovery and the 49ers’ expectations when he speaks with reporters Tuesday morning at the owners’ meetings.
Even if they hope Purdy can compete with Trey Lance and Sam Darnold by training camp, it would be surprising if the 49ers rush Purdy, who burst onto the NFL season as a rookie by winning seven games upon replacing Jimmy Garoppolo before ultimately getting hurt early in the NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia.
Purdy’s surgery was postponed from Feb. 22 to March 10, because of persistent swelling in his elbow. That is a telling example that the 49ers will take a cautious approach to his recovery, rather than fast-track him into a camp competition.
If Purdy does not begin throwing, as expected, until early June, that would come amid the 49ers’ organized team activities, with their mandatory minicamp set for June 13-15.
Will he throw on a side field? Will he be at the team’s Santa Clara facility or at a rehabilitation center in his native Arizona? Will he watch practices on the field and partake in meetings, unlike Garoppolo’s outcast-like treatment at last year’s training camp while he recovered from shoulder surgery?
“He’s doing a really good job. It’s early on,” Lynch added. “There’s not a whole lot that you’re doing, it’s a lot of the range of motion and whatnot. He’s right here (in Arizona) and we may see him tonight.
“As I understand it, around 12 weeks, we’ll know a lot more. That’s when he can start throwing,” Lynch said. “That’s when you really start to know a little more about timeline. All things are going really well. Brock’s going to work, do everything they ask and more.”
Hope aside, the anticipated road to recovery for Purdy has him throwing in some light fashion in June, July and August, with a chance to be fully cleared by the regular season.
Why are the 49ers so convinced about Purdy’s potential?
“Just the way he played, the way he processed, the way he led, it was very impressive,” Lynch said. “Yes, he’s done it for part of one year, but the way he did it, not just that he did it, the way he did it gave a lot of confidence to everybody in our building. There were things that surprised me. I had no idea he was that good of an athlete, the escapability. … He has left us all with a lot of confidence that he is a real guy.”
Meanwhile, Lance has the offseason program to try re-establishing himself as a No. 1 option, as he entered last season before breaking his right ankle in the Sept. 18 home opener.
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