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Can Brock Purdy trust the 49ers' medical staff? Jimmy Garoppolo's surgery raises concerns

Updated: May 31, 2023

The 49ers' training staff hasn't inspired a ton of confidence lately, and there's now even more reason for Brock Purdy to doubt them.

Just this week news broke that Jimmy Garoppolo had surgery in March on the foot he fractured while playing against the Dolphins in Week 13 last year. Why did he have the surgery so late despite the initial injury taking place three months earlier? Because the 49ers' medical staff told him his foot would heal without surgery in a couple of months. It was only after Garoppolo went through his physical with the Raiders that he found out he'd have to go under the knife.

That can't exactly fill Brock with a lot of confidence that the team can say with any degree of accuracy when he can return to play - particularly from a surgery as new as this one.

The internal brace surgery that Purdy had is only around ten years old. It's only ever been done to two other NFL quarterbacks - former 49ers starter Nick Mullens (2020) and current 49ers quarterback Clayton Thorson (2022). There literally is no long-term data on the surgery because it simply hasn't existed for long enough. Basically, everyone is in totally uncharted territory here.

Purdy needs to be selfish in this instance. Rushing to return too quickly could lead to another injury to his elbow, which could put his career in jeopardy. He simply cannot trust that career to a 49ers coaching and training staff that has a dubious history with player heath.

Since Kyle Shanahan took over, the 49ers have been among the top ten most injured teams in the NFL. They've been among the top five most injured every year except 2017, and that's despite bringing in a whole new staff along the way. We've seen multiple players have setbacks during their rehabilitations, and we've seen their diagnosis change quite frequently. If they have that much difficulty dealing with procedures that have been established for years, can QB1 really afford to let them steer the ship after a surgery this new?

We all know there are plenty of reasons for Brock to rush back before he's 100% confident in the elbow. First and foremost, he's got two other highly-drafted quarterbacks gunning for his job - one of which happens to be the guy the franchise give up a king's ransom to draft third overall just two years ago. The 49ers, meanwhile, are hell-bent on winning a Super Bowl this season, and have made no bones about declaring Brock the best man to accomplish that job. His ability to win immediately is what knocked Trey Lance to the back burner this season. As the narrative goes, the team couldn't afford to lose games during Trey's growing pains.

Luckily it doesn't appear that Purdy is afraid to push back on any predictions about his return. While Kyle Shanahan had no problem pointing to Week 1 as a potential target, the QB himself was far less committal.

"I feel good," Purdy told the media on Tuesday, "Arm is feeling good. To say I'm going to be ready by this time or this time, we're not trying to label any kind of timeline like that. For sure though, [Week 1] is a goal. You want to be ready for the season and if that's the case, great, but we're just taking it one day at a time and don't want to say anything that we regret down the road or whatever.”

This is exactly what Purdy should say, in my opinion. Clayton Thorson returned to play 209 days after his internal brace surgery in 2022. If Purdy's recovery takes that long he'd be back just ahead of the 49ers' Week 5 game against the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

I've been honest about wanting Trey Lance to play ever since he was drafted in 2021, but this is separate from that. I want every NFL player to be healthy and take care of their physical and mental well-being above all else. The league chews people up and spits them out, and it's shameful. They have proven that they don't prioritize individual player health and safety so it's on every individual to do that themselves.

To be clear, I'm not saying that the 49ers would intentionally lie to Brock to get him on the field faster. I'm simply saying they've made many mistakes in the past and these circumstances are some of the most unique in the history of the league. Brock should listen to his body and his medical team when it comes to his return, even if that contradicts what the 49ers are telling him.

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May 31, 2023

I wouldn’t trust them based on what mostert said & how they clearly wanted Jimmy to play even tho he had a broken foot that needed surgery.

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