Report: 49ers QB Brock Purdy has complete UCL tear, needs surgery

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy sustained a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and will need surgery, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports.

Per the report, the hope is that he can avoid complete reconstruction of the ligament in the form of Tommy John surgery. A repair rather than a reconstruction could allow Purdy to return in time for training camp next season, according to the report.

Purdy left Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the first quarter after a blow to his right elbow on San Francisco's first possession. A hit by Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick hyperextended the elbow, forcing Purdy to the sideline. Purdy threw some sideline passes to test the injury out, but ultimately told head coach Kyle Shanahan that he couldn't play.

That wasn't the end of his day. The 49ers replaced Purdy with Josh Johnson, their fourth-string quarterback after in-season injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. But Johnson was forced out of the game with a concussion after halftime, leaving the 49ers without a healthy quarterback on the active roster.

Brock Purdy.
Brock Purdy will need surgery on his right elbow after an injury in the first quarter of Sunday's loss. (AP /Seth Wenig)

Purdy returned to the field in the third quarter in a game that was already out of hand. He primarily handed the ball off to 49ers running backs from there. He threw two passes after returning to the game, neither of them downfield.

What does this mean for 49ers, Purdy's future?

The injury marked a crushing end to a stunning rise by Purdy, who previously led the 49ers to a 7-0 record as a starter in relief of Garoppolo, whose season ended in Week 13 because of a foot fracture. A rookie selected with the last pick of last April's NFL Draft, Purdy was not expected to see playing time this season. Instead, he produced one of the more remarkable rookie campaigns in NFL history while leading the 49ers to the NFC West title and two playoff wins.

Now the focus shifts to the future for both Purdy and the 49ers. The injury has the potential to be career-altering for Purdy, who would have made a strong claim to hold onto the starting job with a run to the Super Bowl. The best-case scenario offered by Monday's report keeps the door for his return as San Francisco's starter next season. But that's no guarantee.

The 49ers have been in a perpetual state of quarterback limbo since drafting Lance third overall to a roster that already had Garoppolo in 2021. They will remain so this offseason. Lance largely sat behind Garoppolo as a rookie before winning the job prior to this season. He started two games before a broken ankle in Week 2 ended his 2022 campaign.

If Purdy's healthy, the 49ers will face a choice next season of whether to stick with Purdy or return to Lance. There's also speculation that the 49ers could be compelled to pursue Tom Brady. Does Purdy's potential training-camp return change that calculus? Get ready for another offseason of quarterback uncertainty in San Francisco.