The San Francisco 49ers quarterback was slated to undergo surgery on the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing arm Tuesday before putting the procedure off at Dr. Keith Meister's recommendation. Meister is the team doctor for MLB's Texas Rangers and is an expert in UCL reconstruction that's more common in baseball pitchers.
Purdy, Meister and the 49ers will revisit the procedure in March, according to the report. The postponement raises questions over Purdy's timeline to recover and what type of procedure he'll actually undergo.
Purdy was diagnosed with a complete UCL tear on Jan. 30, the day after the NFC championship game. He sustained the injury in the first half of the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and left the game. He returned after halftime in an emergency situation.
His backup Josh Johnson was ruled out with a concussion, and the 49ers were out of quarterbacks. They'd already lost Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo for the season. Purdy couldn't throw the ball downfield in his return, and the 49ers offense remained stagnant in a blowout loss without a functional quarterback.
Doctors knew at the time of the diagnosis that Purdy needed surgery — just not which kind.
A procedure known as an internal brace surgery would sideline Purdy for roughly six months and leave open the potential for a return to training camp. The alternative is a complete Tommy John reconstruction, the type that sidelines MLB pitchers for a year or longer. In that case, Purdy's return next season would be unlikely.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch said in early February that "we seem encouraged by the prognosis" that points to the six-month procedure. At the time, Purdy was seeking second opinions. Doctors won't know definitively until they cut into Purdy's elbow which procedure he needs. Now whatever surgery he undergoes is delayed.
Purdy's status for next season hangs over a 49ers franchise that's built to compete for a Super Bowl. They advanced to their second straight conference championship this past season only to see their hopes blown up by quarterback injuries.
Purdy — the last selection in last April's draft — was a revelation after taking over 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 a path to likely win the job next season over former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who's started just four NFL games since being drafted in 2021 thanks in part to his own bad injury luck.
Garoppolo, who also started several games for San Francisco this past season, is set to become a free agent in March, and the 49ers have already ruled out the possibility of re-signing him.
Lance is expected to be healthy for offseason activities after recovering from an ankle fracture. Purdy's status remains in limbo — for the time at least — and the 49ers are set to face an offseason marked by difficult decisions.