Pittsburgh Steelers fans will join San Francisco 49ers faithful on Brock Purdy watch this offseason. Coming off a severe elbow surgery in their NFC Championship Game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Purdy will begin throwing next week at the team’s OTAs, head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Tuesday via NFL Network’s Taylor Biscotti.
Purdy tore his UCL early in the game against the 49ers though crucially, he did not need the typical Tommy John surgery, which would’ve guaranteed him to miss the start of the regular season and potentially all of 2023. As outlined in this ESPN article, doctors were able to take a less invasive route to repair the damage ligament and he’s on a remarkably quick recovery, throwing four months after getting hurt.
Still, it’s one step of many before Purdy is cleared to face T.J. Watt and company in the season opener. Even the 49ers aren’t quite sure if Purdy will be ready for Week One. That answer won’t be revealed until later in the offseason, probably towards the end of August, ahead of the team’s September 10th tilt in Pittsburgh. Evidently, Shanahan is leaving Purdy’s future to a higher power.
If Purdy isn’t fully cleared, the 49ers will turn to either Trey Lance or Sam Darnold. Lance was the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft but broke his ankle two weeks into last season and has limited football experience at the college and NFL level. His offseason work has been praised, working alongside Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Darnold is trying to reinvent his career after struggling with the New York Jets but finding some stability last season in Carolina. Pittsburgh beat Darnold’s Panthers last season but the 49ers have a superior supporting cast.
Right now, the situation is uncertain for San Francisco. Which means it’s uncertain for Pittsburgh, though they Steelers will be far less focused on what’s happening in Santa Clara until about three months from now. By then, we should have a clearer picture as to Purdy’s status.