49ers QB Brock Purdy reportedly postponed planned UCL surgery due to ongoing inflammation

Brock Purdy has postponed his planned elbow surgery after an exam on Tuesday revealed persistent inflammation, Reporting by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback was scheduled to undergo surgery on the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing arm on Tuesday before postponing the procedure on the recommendation of Dr. Keith Meister. Meister is the team doctor for the MLB Texas Rangers and is an expert in UCL rebuilding, more common among baseball pitchers.

Purdy, Meister and the 49ers will review the procedure in March, according to the report. The postponement raises questions about Purdy’s recovery schedule and what type of procedure he will actually undergo.

Purdy was diagnosed with a complete UCL tear on Jan. 30, the day after the NFC Championship Game. He was injured in the first half of the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and left the game. He returned after half-time in an emergency situation.

His replacement Josh Johnson was ruled out with a concussion and the 49ers were out of quarterbacks. They had already lost Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. Purdy couldn’t get the ball down the field on his return, and the 49ers offense remained stagnant in a searing loss without a functioning quarterback.

Doctors knew at the time of diagnosis that Purdy needed surgery, but not what type.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 29: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Surgery will have to wait for Brock Purdy. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

A procedure known as internal splint surgery would sideline Purdy for about six months and leave open the possibility of a return to training camp. The alternative is a complete rebuild of Tommy John, the guy who sidelined MLB pitchers for a year or more. In that case, Purdy’s return next season would be unlikely.

49ers general manager John Lynch said in early February that “we seem encouraged by the prognosis” that points to the six-month process. At the time, Purdy was seeking a second opinion. Doctors won’t know for sure until they cut Purdy’s elbow what procedure he needs. Now whatever surgery he has is delayed.

Purdy’s status next season hinges on a 49ers franchise built to compete for a Super Bowl. They qualified for their second straight conference championship last season only to have their hopes dashed by quarterback injuries.

Purdy — the final draft pick last April — was a revelation after returning to the offense as a third-string rookie. As a starter, he led the 49ers to seven straight wins, including two in the playoffs before the loss to the Eagles in the championship game. He was on track to win the job next season over former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who has started just four NFL games since being drafted in 2021, thanks in part to his own bad luck.

Garoppolo, who also started several games for San Francisco last season, is expected to become a free agent in March, and the 49ers have already ruled out the possibility of re-signing him.

Lance should be healthy for off-season activities after recovering from a broken ankle. Purdy’s status remains in limbo — for now at least — and the 49ers are set to face an offseason marked by tough decisions.

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