- Editor's Note: "Mr. Relevant: Brock Purdy's NFL Story," a 49ers Talk original series, details the QB's incredible journey from the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to Bay Area superstar through his eyes and those closest to him, his mom and dad.
When Brock Purdy steps back on an NFL field Sunday – exactly six months after elbow surgery -- he’ll have his father to thank for it.
Shawn Purdy, a minor league pitcher for eight years in the 1990s, partially tore the UCL in his throwing arm before his 1993 season in the Angels’ system, and needed a lengthy rehabilitation process to play again. Thirty years later, he used that experience to help his son after the 49ers’ young quarterback fully tore the UCL in his throwing arm during last season’s NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia.
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“Being able to ask him and go to him for advice with, ‘Hey man, what do I got to do?’ ” Brock Purdy told NBC Sports Bay Area in a recent interview. “And the biggest thing he would say is, ‘You got to have patience. There’s a process to this. You can’t overnight, all of the sudden heal up.’ ”
Shawn Purdy called on the people he knew, including someone who was part of his rehab, and helped his son understand what lie ahead of him. He appreciated and approved of the recovery schedule that medical professionals brainstormed for Brock, who had surgery March 10.
“[My UCL injury] wasn’t as severe, but I know a lot of rehab guys, and the guy that I had [Keith Coker] is amazing,” Shawn Purdy told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He is the first guy I leaned on. The rehabilitation part of it is so important.”
The younger Purdy isn’t exactly known for patience, but he knew that following the program would be of the utmost importance. That included everything from taking scheduled days off, to counting every throw he made in practice, to sleeping enough to allow his body to heal.
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“It’s just being real, obviously with myself, the doctors, the professionals in this business,” Brock Purdy said. “They’ve done the surgeries, they’ve done the rehab, they know what’s best. So, trusting them, having faith in them in the timing and healing of my arm. I just have to trust that process of it, not try to hurry it.
“I’ve wanted to do every little thing right possible — the sleep, eating the right stuff, vitamins, making sure my diet is right, working out when I can, just try to do every little thing right.”
Brock and the 49ers closely followed that schedule, which included a “de-load” week that allowed half of the number of throws he had made since being cleared to full practice with “no restrictions” in late July, less than 20 weeks after the surgery and just eight weeks after he began a throwing program with a regulation-sized football. By mid-August, he was allowed to throw in three consecutive practices, as he would during the regular season, and he played in San Francisco’s final two preseason games, completing 9 of 14 passes for 138 yards without issue.
“Just by going out to practice today doesn’t mean we are going to win the Super Bowl now or anything like that,” Brock said. “I have to, day-by-day, keep my head down and work. Do the little things right to allow my arm to rest and recover.
“When it’s time to go out to practice, practice. When it’s not, don’t. There’s a process to it. Obviously want to be ready for Game 1, and trying to do everything right up until that.”
This weekend in Pittsburgh, Purdy can show the NFL world that he has fully recovered and is ready for more success in his second pro season.