Brock Purdy’s once-delayed elbow surgery could happen early next week, if all looks OK in an imminent exam in Arizona this week, 49ers general manager John Lynch said Tuesday.
Whether Purdy’s recovery timeline still aligns with a six-month target before the regular season, Lynch would only go so far as to say, “We’ll see where it goes.”
Lynch, speaking at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, acknowledged the uncertainty that remains for what extent of repair or reconstruction is facing Purdy, who tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow when sacked on the 49ers’ opening possession of their NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 29.
A week ago, Purdy was examined by Dr. Keith Meister, who discovered that Purdy’s elbow remained swollen and thus delayed the surgery that was slated for the following day. Purdy is hoping to have an internal-brace repair, which could mean a six-month recovery, rather than a full reconstruction of his UCL ligament with the so-called Tommy John surgery that would shelve him into 2024.
“Ultimately he’s 22 years old, we want the best outcome and Dr. Mesister made a really tough decision,” Lynch said in his press conference, which was streamed on the 49ers’ Twitter account. “We’re very appreciative. He’s done thousands of these surgeries. When you have all the swelling and stiffness out, that’s when he’s had the best success with the outcomes.”
John Lynch provides an update on Brock Purdy. pic.twitter.com/LJdj1uShXh
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) February 28, 2023
Purdy, who grew up in Queen Creek, Ariz., is in that area and will meet this week with Dr. Meister, who is part of the Texas Rangers’ medical staff and plans to be in Arizona attending spring training.
“He called me when he made that decision (to delay surgery),” Lynch said of Dr. Meister. “That’s a tough decision to make but I really appreaciate the courage and the conviction to make it. It’s all about the best outcome. Is it ideal? No, for a variety of reasons – time being No. 1. You want every waking minute that you have.”
Drafted with the 262nd and final pick last year, Purdy won eight straight games when thrust into the lineup in place of an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy and Trey Lance, the 49ers’ top draft in 2021, are the only quarterbacks under contract, as Garoppolo is slated to hit free agency in two weeks.
GAROPPOLO IS GOING, GOING …
“Jimmy has been tremendous for us. In our first year, at the end of the year, we do a trade, Jimmy comes in and lights it up. A lot of people want to talk about what we didn’t accomplish with him. What I know is we won a lot of football games with Jimmy. I admire, we admire his toughness, admire the teammate that he was.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan, who’s not attending the scouting combine, bluntly said on Feb. 1 he could not envision a scenario in which Garoppolo returns for a seventh season with the franchise.
“I know everyone wants to talk about some discourse and all that,” Lync added. “But I do believe that it’s probably run its course. We leave with nothing but fond memories for Jimmy, and Jimmy is going to go play good football for someone.”
Shanahan said Feb. 1 the 49ers did not plan to pursue a high-level quarterback as a potential fill-in. But with Purdy’s status unclear and Lance only two months removed from follow-up surgery on his right ankle, the 49ers need quarterback depth.
“We may have to look into the quarterback market in addition to Brock and Trey to insulate ourselves from what might happen,” Lynch said.
UNRETIRE TOM BRADY?
Could the 49ers’ quarterback search include looking at Tom Brady, a San Mateo native who’s 27 days into retirement?
Lynch said he texted Brady a congratulatory message on a record-setting career.
“He was a teammate for about three weeks at one point,” said Lynch, referring to his 2008 stint in Patriots’ training camp before retiring from his Pro Football Hall of Fame career as a safety. “So I sent him a text, just ‘Congratulations on one of the greatest careers that I’ve ever seen in any sport.’
“I wished him the best, so we’ll leave it at that.”
Lynch is encouraged by what he’s seeing in Lance’s rehabilitation a month into the offseason.
“He’s doing really well. I feel I tell you this all the time but from my office on the second floor, I have a nice view of the field. I get reports, obviously, but my eyes tell me a lot,” Lynch said. “I’m watching Trey out there, taking drops every day and I don’t see a limp.
“That’s not to say he’s 100 percent. He’s really recovering well and doing a nice job. He did start throwing recently. Trey’s rehabbing extremely well.”
Lance, who broke his right ankle in the Sept. 18 home opener, required a follow-up surgery Dec. 30 to remove stabilizing hardware that was irritating his tendons, a procedure that Lynch claimed was not a setback, per see. “They took care of it and he seems to be doing really well, and we’re happy for him,” Lynch added.
Lance was drafted No. 3 overall in 2021 out of North Dakota State, and he’s since played just eight games with four starts. Finger, knee and ankle injuries have limited his NFL career to 102 passes (54.9% completion rate; five touchdowns, two interceptions) and 54 carries (235 yards, one touchdown).
“His biggest thing, we’ve just got to find a way – and I’ve had a lot of conversations with Trey (how) early in my career I struggled to stay healthy, and I had an eight-year stretch I didn’t miss a snap – so sometimes you just have to go through the rough patches and he’s got to play,” Lynch added. “That’s the biggest challenge.”
“We’ve got a team that’s ready to go now. He’s got to go out there and play. Brock got that opportunity this year, he grabbed it, he did great things. We’ll see at some point how we get Trey that opportunity, because we very much believe in who he is as a person and as a quarterback.”