SANTA CLARA – Brock Purdy knows the process of getting ready for the season after major off-season elbow surgery is an intentional one where a new test is provided every day.
He got an unexpected one earlier this week when teammate Clelin Ferrell hit his surgically repaired throwing arm when he tried to pitch, knocking the ball out and causing San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to “hold my breath so I didn’t go crazy.”
For Purdy, it was just another game on his way back to becoming the starting quarterback.
“I feel like a coach, a teammate watching, yeah, they might be afraid of that, especially how it ended last year with my arm,” Purdy said on Friday. “But, honestly, it’s just football. I didn’t even think about it. He knocked the ball out of my hand and I went through to finish the throw and the ball ended up on the ground. It’s football. Was I mad at Clelin or something? I said to him, “Dude, it’s football. I get it. We are in a competitive environment. Things happen.” But for myself, was I afraid of it? Was I shy afterwards? No.”
Purdy tore the ligament in his throwing elbow during the NFC title loss in Philadelphia on January 29 and had surgery in March. He started pitching in late May and has been participating in two of three practices since the opening of training camp last month.
Purdy said he doesn’t feel he needs more milestones in the comeback, like taking his first hit in a game from an opponent to himself who has fully recovered.
“For me, I feel normal when I’m there, so I feel like I just need to get into a rhythm and play and make progressions and just play quarterback,” he said. “It’s not really, ‘Hey, I need to get tackled here so I can feel good about my arm.’ There’s none of that, that’s what goes through my head. So I just play football, I read my books and I feel normal.”
After showing some signs of rust early in camp as he worked his way back from surgery, Purdy has looked sharper in recent days.
He got his most extensive work during a tough training Friday. He connected on a deep TD pass with Deebo Samuel in practice on Friday and at one point had eight consecutive completions during team drills. His only big mistake on Friday came when he was pressured by Ferrell and threw a short pass that was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson.
“I just see it as a process,” he said. “The first day you come in, you’re not going to be All-Pro and kill it right away. It’s like a process of the formations, the operation, getting on track with guys, the receivers being on time and in rhythm. You go from there where we are in camp right now for me it’s like yeah if you’re having a good day great but I have to keep trying to stress myself and go to another level If it’s is a bad day and you wish you had been better.”
While Purdy got the heavy lifting, backups Sam Darnold and Trey Lance split time with the second team, while Brandon Allen got the third team’s work.
Darnold and Lance have spent most of camp time as the biggest question at quarterback for the Niners is who will be Purdy’s backup once the season starts.
It’s a big difference for Lance, who entered his sophomore camp as a starter last summer before a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 sidelined him and eventually opened the door for Purdy to succeed him.
“For me, nothing has changed in the last three years,” said Lance. “I feel like I attacked it the same way. I feel like I’m in a much better place personally this year than I’ve been for the past two years. But in terms of mindset, mentally for me, I feel like I’ve put myself in If you don’t apply the same pressure in practice, then the game is a lot more difficult.”
NOTES: There was a slight fright as Samuel landed hard after catching the WL and lay down for a few minutes. He then walked away under his own power and later returned in team drills. … OL Jon Feliciano returned to practice after missing a day with a shoulder injury. … OL Aaron Banks remains sidelined in concussion protocol. … The Niners signed DL Daelin Hayes to a one-year contract and placed DL Darryl Johnson on IR.