‘Only God Knows’ But 49ers Optimistic Brock Purdy Will Be Starter Week One

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Brock Purdy hasn’t thrown a football since the NFC Championship Game in January and while he continues recovering from surgery to repair a ligament in his throwing elbow, there’s been much speculation about Trey Lance or possibly Sam Darnold snatching the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback job.


That’s not Plan A.

The 49ers plan and, indeed, expect Purdy to be their starting quarterback when they open the season at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10. That’s the target they’re aiming for.

Kyle Shanahan believes Brock Purdy will be back for season opener.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of San Francisco 49ers reacts against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Kyle Shanahan Confirms 49ers Hopes

“Yeah, it’s not really a moving target, it’s that only God knows and it’s all estimates, so it depends what quote people have got from me, but we’re hoping for Week 1 and I feel pretty optimistic about that,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Tuesday.

“That’s what we’re hoping for, that he’ll be ready to play in Week 1 and usually that doesn’t mean that’s the day he comes back. Usually you have to come before that to make that goal and that’s kind of the goal we’re hoping for and I don’t have any reason to think differently.”

What Shanahan means is Purdy will be practicing with the team several weeks before the regular-season opener. Indeed, the 49ers privately believe Purdy might take part in significant portions of training camp, likely in August per a source.

Brock Purdy rehabbing for 49ers return.
Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter of the game at Lumen Field on December 15, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Brock Purdy To Begin Throwing Sessions

This is obviously aspirational. Purdy had surgery in March to repair his right ulnar collateral ligament and it can take up to nine months from surgery to full recovery. Purdy and the 49ers hope to cut that timetable and be out there in six months or less.

Next week will mark a milestone for the quarterback who burst on the scene as a rookie after being the last player selected in the 2022 draft. Shanahan confirmed he’ll actually begin soft toss sessions with a football next week.

“Yeah, I think he’s allowed to throw sometime next week,” the coach said.

Until now, Purdy has been making due with a towel. That’s right, he cannot throw a ball so he’s been working out with a towel in hand. 

“Everything that we work on when it comes for NFL guys throwing, it is usually from the ground up and how to time their feet, their drops, their eyes and everything,” Shanahan said. “I rarely even look at where the ball goes, you just expect it to be there and these are NFL quarterbacks, so it’s tough when you can’t pick up the weight of a ball and throw because of your elbow.

“How do you work at everything else? Brock is healthy in every other aspect and he can move his arm, he just doesn’t want to put that weight on it, so for Brock to still be able to do his drops, all his footwork and stuff, you want to be able to simulate a throwing motion and that’s hard with nothing in your arm.”

Brock Purdy penciled in by 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for season opener.
Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers walks off the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on December 15, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Brock Purdy Throws Out The Towel

“So he uses a towel instead and it’s what a lot of quarterbacks do when you try to throw every day and work on things every day, but you don’t want to wear your arm down. So sometimes you use a towel, sometimes you use a football and Brock is just in a situation where you only can use a towel right now.”

It seems a long journey between being limited to working with a towel in May to playing a football game against the Steelers in September.

Can Purdy make the trip without a stumble or setback?

As Shanahan said, only God knows, even as the 49ers are believing so.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero 

Written by Armando Salguero

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