Brock Purdy Injury Update: Will the 49ers QB Play in 2023?

The San Francisco 49ers' QB situation remains up in the air heading into 2023. Here's an update on the consequential Brock Purdy injury.

Brock Purdy Injury Update: Will the 49ers QB Play in 2023?

Last year’s Mr. Irrelevant turned in one of the most shocking campaigns in modern NFL history, as the rookie no one else wanted helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to the playoffs. But a torn UCL ended his, and one might argue the Niners’, season in the NFC title game.

So will Brock Purdy play in 2023? What is his injury outlook, and how will it impact his QB teammates and the 49ers’ championship hopes?

Latest Brock Purdy Injury Update

According to The Athletic’s David Lombardi, 49ers GM John Lynch expects Purdy to resume throwing 12 weeks post-elbow surgery, which would be in early June. When the QB starts throwing, the team will then have more clarity as to what the future holds.

Speaking on KNBR, Lynch confirmed that the quarterback is on pace to hit that mark.

“I just got a report from the trainers,” Lynch said on the Murph & Mac show. “So Week 12, that’s where he can actually go out, start lobbing a football. And according to the surgeon, you start getting a little better read on exactly where he’s at right about then.

“I think that’s just kind of an indicator of where he’s at. And then obviously you have to work up your strength, your stamina, you have to increase reps, distance, all those things. But that’s going to be well thought out, and he’s doing well. I think you just take it day by day. It’s cliché, but it’s the best thing you can do, and he’s done a great job of doing that.”

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After the second day of OTAs on May 23, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that Purdy is still on schedule and should begin throwing “sometime next week.” Purdy then later reiterated that the plan to start his throwing next week would be almost spot on the original early June timetable.

Both Shanahan and Purdy appeared optimistic that the second-year QB has a chance to be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. However, while Purdy said his arm feels good, he did express some caution about putting definitive dates on anything. “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,” said Purdy. “We’re just taking it one day at a time and don’t want to say anything that we regret down the road or whatever.”

Purdy told reporters that after OTAs, he is planning to head back to Jacksonville to continue his rehab and training. Jacksonville is where Purdy worked out ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft with Tom Gormely and Will Hewlett. Purdy explained, “As I start to throw more and I want to just make sure my mechanics and everything are right. So go down, work with them for a couple of weeks, and then get back here.”

What Is Purdy’s Injury?

Purdy tore the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow of his throwing arm during the first quarter of this year’s NFC Championship Game against the Eagles. Often with these injuries, the UCL gradually tears over time, especially among individuals who engage in repeated overhand throwing motions. But sometimes, it can occur in an instant.

The initial prognosis for recovery was at least six months. Of course, there can be complications and setbacks.

In fact, a recent study shows a meaningfully increased probability of a torn UCL eventually culminating in another torn UCL. While Purdy absolutely could prosper in the NFL in spite of this early-career setback, he’s also a higher-than-normal re-injury risk.

What Are the 49ers’ Options If Purdy Doesn’t Play?

Back to where we started. This is where things get complicated and/or interesting, depending on your personal investment in Purdy, Lance, and the 49ers in general.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan already has stated that he “expects” Lance and the recently acquired Sam Darnold (also a former No. 3 overall pick) to share first-team reps during offseason workouts. When Purdy returns, who knows? But it’s interesting (and not entirely surprising) that Lance isn’t squarely ahead of Darnold on the depth chart.

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Maybe Shanahan believes this will motivate Lance. Or maybe the longtime coach truly believes Darnold — who’s somehow still only 25 years old — might finally exhibit his potential in an offense featuring one of the league’s top backfield and one of the NFC’s top receiving corps.

The reality is the 49ers should be fine with or without Purdy, at least for now. We haven’t yet seen Lance at or near his best. While he was atrocious in Week 1 last season, awful field conditions played a modest-to-significant role. I don’t doubt that he would have performed significantly better if he hadn’t gotten hurt early in Week 2 against Seattle.

So while Jimmy Garoppolo is long gone, this team will have a few months to assess whether Lance is ready to help lead this offense or if Darnold brings more poise while operating in the best scheme he’s ever played in. And if the answer is “none of the above,” and if Purdy’s ready, then at least San Francisco knows what to expect from their most unlikely hero from the 2022 season.


About the Author

BJ Rudell
BJ Rudell
B.J. Rudell is a longtime sports betting and fantasy sports content creator, utilizing firsthand research and predictive analytics as a counterweight to ubiquitous commoditized content. His background includes more than 2,000 betting/fantasy columns on subjects ranging from DFS to moneylines to point spreads to prop bets. Additionally, he’s a former freelancer for Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports, a former podcast host for ESPN Raleigh, and the winner of five national sports betting competitions -- including three DFS tournaments versus 20,000+ people combined and two Sporting News betting competitions versus nearly 400,000 people combined.

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