49ers QB Brock Purdy suffers tear at UCL, out for six months

Although Josh Johnson’s exit forced Brock Purdy back in the NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco starter was suffering from a serious elbow injury. More clarity is emerging on Purdy’s elbow ailment, though a definitive return timeline remains elusive.

Purdy suffered a tear from the UCL, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (the Twitter). The rookie sensation suffered a complete tear, according to Pelissero, but as of now the hope is that he can avoid Tommy John surgery. If Purdy can avoid common baseball procedure — one that can put pitchers out of action for well over a year — he could be back in time for 49ers training camp, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). Indeed, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes that the current plan is for Purdy to be sidelined for approximately six months (Twitter link).

A repair procedure would allow for this shortened absence, but a rebuilding operation – the Tommy John route – would sideline Purdy for the foreseeable future and destabilize his career. Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate seeks additional opinions, Washington Post’s Mark Maske tweet. If Purdy avoids reconstructive surgery, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweet it should be ready to shed around three months.

The 49ers managed to advance to the NFC title game despite losing their top two quarterbacks, but will enter the offseason with neither of them healthy. Trey Lance suffered a fractured fibula and ligament damage that required two ankle surgeries; the second happened not so long ago. Jimmy Garoppolo underwent surgery in December to repair a broken foot, and although the veteran starter was considered a candidate to return before the end of the 49ers season, he was unavailable for Sunday’s game. It created a doomsday scenario for San Francisco, which was forced to turn to Johnson – an arm of Denver’s practice squad for most of this season – before needing Purdy again after Johnson left the game.

This will mark the second consecutive offseason in which the 49ers will see an injury cloud their quarterback prospects. Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery in March 2022 diverted his trade market and brought him back to the Bay Area as Lance insurance, which became necessary in Week 2. The performance and the Lance’s injury status makes his 49ers look rather murky, but Purdy missing the offseason program will open the door for the former No. 3 overall pick to have a better chance of getting his starting job back. Going into the NFC title game, Purdy was on course to be preferred to keep the gig after his superb string of performances that have guided the 49ers to this point. Now, the 49ers could enter their offseason schedule with none of their potential 2023 options healthy. Garoppolo is put into free agency in March.

Purdy, who is under contract through 2025, fell on the 49ers’ first practice; the injury effectively secured the Eagles of their fourth-place finish in the Super Bowl and the 49ers of a second straight season from being pushed back into the championship round. San Francisco has been loosely linked to Tom Brady, and hours before Garoppolo went down with his last major injury, the team were bound to want to discuss another contract. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers consider adding a veteran starter. The team will likely have to make some move at quarterback, given Purdy and Lance’s uncertain schedules.

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