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Naqvi: 49ers should prepare as if Trey Lance will start Week 1

Feb 22, 2023 at 9:55 AM

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Brock Purdy's surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow has been postponed to March. It was initially scheduled to take place today. However, Tom Pelissero reported that Dr. Keith Meister, who will perform the procedure, recommended it be postponed due to inflammation remaining in the San Francisco 49ers quarterback's arm.

The delay will undoubtedly move back the timeline for his recovery at least a little bit. It is expected to be six months should there be no complications. A March surgery would put Purdy's return around September, still possibly ahead of the start of the regular season.

The best-case scenario is that the surgery will involve the repair of the ligament and an internal brace. However, there is a possibility that a hybrid procedure, a reconstruction of the ligament and an internal brace, might be necessary, increasing his recovery time. Dr. Meister will determine which procedure is needed after surgery begins.

"There's this backup plan of having a hybrid surgery, which means a little bit of the graft, and then an internal brace, which can be anywhere from seven to nine months," Purdy explained during the week leading to the Super Bowl.

It sounds increasingly likely the 49ers should prepare for the 2023 season as if third-year quarterback Trey Lance will be the Week 1 starter. Of course, that was always a possibility. Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury in September but is expected to be full-go for organized team activities (OTAs) in May.

If everything goes as planned, Purdy could still be ready by Week 1, but that assumes no setbacks and that his arm strength will return to normal.

"So I think that the fair thing to do for the 49ers is to prepare as if Trey is going to be starting for a week or two while Brock is still getting his legs under him and his arm into game shape," Zain Naqvi said last week on the 49ers Webzone No Huddle podcast. "Because, look, it's not just about rehab. It's also about getting your arm into game shape and being able to handle the rigors of a full season."

Naqvi points to the example of Lance during his rookie season. The quarterback admitted that his arm was worn down by all of the throwing he had been doing. Lance says he had been throwing nearly nonstop from May of 2020 through the draft, the offseason, and the regular season.

"So, at that point, I had been throwing for a year straight and then go through that whole season until the next January," Lance said. "So I'd say probably, I don't know, about 20 months straight of throwing."

This offseason is a big opportunity for Lance to prove himself. Purdy will be trying to get his arm strong enough for the rigors of an NFL season.

"So, yeah, I think that this is a tremendous opportunity for Trey to show that, number one, he can stay healthy, and number two, that he is taking those leaps and bounds," Naqvi added.

You can listen to the entire podcast episode below.

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