“Trey’s going to have to prove that he can stay healthy.”
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan met with the media Wednesday afternoon for their end of year press conference.
San Francisco’s quarterback situation dominated the discussion. Here is what the 49ers general manager and head coach had to say about the health of their two young quarterbacks and their expectations heading into the offseason.
We spoke to QB Brock Purdy yesterday and he mentioned getting some more images done yesterday afternoon. Any clarity coming out of that as far as what kind of surgery he’s going to have, how long he’ll be out?
General Manager John Lynch: “Yeah, I think he’s continuing to get some different opinions, talk to different people, which I think is smart in an instance like this, there’s a lot of smart people out there. You want to make sure you’re thorough. He’s continuing to go through that process. I think the positive bit of news is that it seems to be consistent that the right approach is that one that takes about that six-month mark. Now, everybody will also say you never know until you get in there. Every surgeon will tell you that on every surgery, you always like getting in to see exactly. The MRI tells you a lot of the pictures, so they’re continuing to work through that process, but we seem encouraged by the prognosis that that’s kind of where it’s at.”
By the six month one, you mean the internal brace one?
If it is six months, that means that he’d probably be back in time for training camp, if that’s the situation. Are you content enough with Brock and QB Trey Lance being the top two guys going into training camp or would you be looking for a high-profile veteran?
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan: “No, we’re content enough.”
Are there comparisons on quarterbacks who have come back from this kind of surgery about how long it takes before they get fine motor skills back on different passes? With pitchers, they talk about curveball control, I don’t know what the comp is?
KS: “That was the coolest thing for me to hear about that once three months is over, they start the rehab of just building the arm back slowly, and by six months it’s built back. And that’s when I started asking questions, does that mean ease him in? When you think of ACLs and they said, no, the buildups been from three-to-six and at six months, he is the same dude and full go, so that was the most encouraging part that I heard.”
Trey said that he expects to be medically cleared in the next three-to-four weeks, so that what you’re expecting, that he’ll be full go come OTAs or will you be easing him in?
KS: “It sounds like he’ll be pretty close around phase one, phase two. OTAs is the third phase, which I think that is five weeks after phase one, so we’ll see in phase one, they’re saying right around that time, so hopefully we’ll be able to ease him in with drill work and things like that. And then by OTAs, he’ll be able to go.”
With Brock, where is your mind right now as far as how you’re going to approach the quarterback situation this offseason with Brock and his rehab and where Trey is. How do you expect to handle this leading into training camp?
KS: “I don’t think there’s much to handle. One guy can’t go and the other guy should be ready for OTAs, so OTAs haven’t been that consistent over the last three, four years since COVID. They keep being a little bit more different each year, so it’s not as big of a deal as it used to be, but it sounds we will at least have one guy for it.”
Will Brock be the starter in training camp if he’s healthy, or will there be a competition between him and Trey?
KS: “Those are things I haven’t even thought about at all, so right now we’re just working on coaches and I think that stuff will play itself out by training camp.”
I know this is hypothetical, but when you say you are content with those two guys, does that mean you would not be looking at signing a starter-level veteran at all?
KS: “I know we have two starters on our team right now that I believe we can win with, so when you have that situation, you’re not that eager to go looking around.”
These are two guys who are coming off injuries and one of them has been hurt previously. Isn’t that a little bit of a risk when you have just gone through four quarterbacks?
KS: “It always is, but when a quarterback gets his arm bent backwards and stuff, I think anybody gets hurt from that, it’s unfortunate when quarterbacks get hurt, but you try to have three, sometimes you bring four into camp, but I don’t think we’re going to start having five or anything like that. Brock did a pretty good job being durable all year and they got his elbow in an unfortunate situation, which I think has happened a number of quarterbacks. Going back to, I don’t know exactly, but when you look at [former NFL QB Drew] Brees, I don’t know if that was shoulder or elbow that he [John Lynch] did on the last play of the year. Yeah, there’s lots of situations like that and you look at the recovery timeline and the good thing—[Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew] Stafford, I don’t know if that was from an impact thing or if that just built up over time, but I know he went through some of that stuff last offseason and that affected him a little bit into this year, but the good thing about Brock is that wasn’t an issue. It was a freak accident that I think everyone saw what happened. And when you talk to the doctors, it takes three months to really get back to repairing it and building it up the right way and in six months, he’ll be the same guy.”
Is there a scenario in which you guys can see QB Jimmy Garoppolo being back and if so, what would that look like?
KS: “No, I don’t see any scenario of that.”
Obviously, you will add another or two quarterbacks. What’s the profile of the kind of quarterback, whether veteran or a rookie, undrafted? What’s the profile of the guy that you want to come in here along with Trey and Brock?
KS: “The best available that can fit into the structure of our team and the salary cap and all that, but the best one available.”
Quarterback injuries have been an issue the past few years. Jimmy had several, Trey has had a few, Brock has had a couple. This offseason, is this something that you feel you need to find a common denominator for or somewhat of a solution for? Or is it something that’s just bad luck that’s out of your hands?
JL: “Yeah, I really believe that’s a tough position to play in this league. I understand there’s some players who’ve had incredible durability. As Kyle said earlier, I think Brock’s been incredibly durable throughout his career. He ran into just an inopportune situation where he’s trying to throw the ball down field, and he’s got an NFL edge rusher pulling at your arm the other direction. It’s just not going to hold up, so that stinks. Trey had his issues and Trey’s had a rough go here the last couple years. He’s obviously going to have to prove that he can stay healthy, but I know there was periods of my career early on where I struggled to stay healthy, then I went eight years without missing a snap. So that happens sometimes. And yeah, I’m sure people wonder, Jimmy’s had his issues, but believe me, it’s nothing with the way we play our quarterbacks or anything. I think it’s just coincidence and we look into everything, but I don’t think we have any more of an issue than anybody else. I think that’s a tough position in this league.”
With all due respect to John’s answer about quarterbacks. When you go through a season and you have four quarterbacks get hurt, does it cause you as a coach any hesitation? They’re all different, but does it give you as the person who draws up the plays, any hesitation on how you’re protecting them? How they’re handled, what you do with them?
KS: “Yeah, I think when you ask that question that way, I understand, but I think if you looked at the injuries common sense would answer that question. How have they gotten hurt? I’m sorry, [QB] Josh [Johnson] got a concussion when he hit the ground, so that’s the fourth one you’re talking about. I’m sorry our quarterback got his elbow bent backwards on a normal drop back pass. I’m sorry, on a drop back pass someone rolled up on Jimmy’s ankle. And then we have a dual-threat quarterback who got hurt running the ball. To throw all those four in that category. No quarterbacks got hurt when we had to hand it off the whole second half, so we can look into that.”