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Why Kyle Shanahan saying Brock Purdy could return for training camp is noteworthy

May 12, 2023 at 8:40 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch often takes an optimistic approach to everything. He acknowledges the worst-case scenario but remains hopeful that things will work out for the best. His second-year quarterback, Brock Purdy, underwent surgery on March 10 to repair a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, an injury sustained in the NFC Championship Game. The recovery from such an injury is estimated to be about six months, putting a potential return sometime in early September.

Lynch has been optimistic that Purdy could return sooner.

"Our hope is he's ready to go in training camp," Lynch said in March, just weeks after Purdy's surgery. "We'll see how everything goes."

Training camp, by the way, begins in late July and runs through August. Purdy won't even start throwing a football again until early June.

RELATED Purdy gave Shanahan, 49ers teammates a 'ton of confidence'

It remains unlikely the young quarterback will be ready for the start of training camp. The 49ers may believe he can be cleared to practice sometime in August. While that still sounds early, it's not necessarily unbelievable.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan isn't always as optimistic as Lynch, and speaking to reporters the day after the general manager, he acknowledged that Purdy missing games was possible.

"It might be Week 1. I think I'm hearing, at the latest, Week 4," Shanahan said in March, likely trying to temper the expectations set by Lynch. "But that's just all estimations, and we'll see what happens."

That's why what Shanahan said during the Dwight Clark Legacy Series event this week is noteworthy. The coach now seems to be leaning more toward Lynch's timeline.

"And just watching him now, he's doing the same drills all the other quarterbacks are doing," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "He's just using a towel to throw, but still doing violent motion, still moving it. He's just not doing [it] with the football. He'll get closer to that, and as long as there's not a setback, we think he'll be there in training camp."

It's still possible that Purdy isn't ready for Week 1. Should that be the case, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold will compete to start that first regular season game. However, it is significant that Shanahan is now more optimistic that his second-year quarterback might return in time to participate in at least some of training camp.

The 49ers will better understand Purdy's recovery timeline when the quarterback begins throwing a football again. But, no matter the situation, the team plans to be smart with his return.

Added Lynch: "We're going to do what's right for Brock because that's right for our organization. You know, be aggressive with what we do but also be really smart."


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