The San Francisco 49ers are optimistic Brock Purdy will be back in the QB1 saddle for the 2023 season, but head coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday from the Annual League Meeting that it's unclear when that might be.
"He won't be able to do anything on the field, for who knows? It could go anywhere from six months to eight months," Shanahan said. "So, it's all open like that, and we'll have a better idea … at three months out of surgery, they have a better idea of whether it's going to be six months or eight months. … That's all I know, and I'm pretty good with that. We'll see at three months if he'll be ready for camp, or if not, then perhaps we say it's gonna go slow. It might be Week 1 and, at the latest, Week 4. It's just all estimations, and we'll see what happens."
After postponing elbow surgery due to swelling, Purdy finally got the UCL injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles repaired on March 10. Shanahan's comment Tuesday essentially amounts to: Check back in June.
With Purdy on the mend, it opens the door for former first-round pick Trey Lance to impress the staff during the offseason program. The Niners also signed Sam Darnold to a low-cost deal as insurance.
"With Brock being hurt, it does open (the job) up, and it does give (Lance) a chance," Shanahan. "I don't know how Brock's going to come back. I don't know exactly when he's going to come back, so I don't have the exact answer for that. But right now, because he is hurt, it is nice to focus on Trey, it is nice to focus on Sam, and see how they do in OTAs and most likely see how they're playing leading us into training camp because I think it will take some time for Brock."
Lance is coming off a season-ending injury suffered in Week 2 that wiped out what was supposed to be the campaign he took over the reins. Following Jimmy Garoppolo's injury later in the season, Purdy shined, putting Lance's future as a starter in San Francisco in question. However, Purdy's injury could open the door to Lance getting back into the game.
"Trey had that position going into the year," Shanahan said of entering last offseason as QB1. "We were real excited about that, and we think he would've had a hell of a year. He only got in one and a quarter games, and then he went out.
"Brock played eight games and won all of them and played at an extremely high level. We believe Trey can be that. I think he would've done it last year if he had stayed healthy. The good thing for him is with Brock being hurt and stuff, he has an opportunity to try and regain that. That's also why we brought in Sam. Because we can't be set for sure on Brock because you never know how the injury will go. We think it will go well. We're optimistic about it, but right now, that's on hold. So that opens up an opportunity for Trey and for Sam to come in and show us what they have."