SANTA CLARA — Brock Purdy is on schedule to begin tossing around footballs at some point next week.
He still has been doing nearly everything the other 49ers quarterbacks have done during the team's offseason program.
The difference is that while Trey Lance, Sam Darnold and Brandon Allen are throwing footballs around the 49ers' practice field, Purdy is going through the motions with a towel in his right hand.
“Brock is healthy in every other aspect and he can move his arm, he just doesn’t want to put that weight on it,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained this week as the team began organized team activities.
“So for Brock to still be able to do his drops, all his footwork and stuff, you want to be able to simulate a throwing motion. And that's hard with nothing in your arm, so he uses a towel instead.”
Purdy, the team’s presumptive starting quarterback, appears to have a good chance of being cleared for the team’s regular-season opener on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium, Shanahan said this week.
He sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the NFC Championship Game when Philadelphia Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick hit Purdy’s forearm as he was attempting a first-quarter pass.
Nearly six weeks later, on March 10, Purdy underwent surgery. Next week will be 12 weeks after surgery, and he can begin to replace a football for the towel he has been gripping.
“It's what a lot of quarterbacks do when you try to throw every day and work on things every day, but you don't want to wear your arm down,” Shanahan said. “So sometimes you use a towel; sometimes you use a football. And Brock is just in a situation where you only can use a towel right now.”
Shanahan said he is convinced Purdy continued to make improvements — mentally and physically — that can make him a better player this season even during the time he has been unable to throw.
“Everything that we work on when it comes for NFL guys throwing, it is usually from the ground up and how to time their feet, their drops, their eyes and everything,” Shanahan said.
“I rarely even look at where the ball goes, you just expect it to be there and these are NFL quarterbacks, so it's tough when you can't pick up the weight of a ball and throw because of your elbow. How do you work at everything else?”
The 49ers consider Purdy the “leader in the clubhouse” for the starting job based on the eight games in which he played the majority of snaps as a rookie.
After Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a fractured foot on Dec. 4, Purdy stepped onto the field and the offense got on a roll. The 49ers won all eight games with Purdy before facing the Eagles.
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Purdy was one of the big stories of the 2022 NFL season after the 49ers selected him with the No. 262nd and final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.
He completed 114 of 170 (67.1 percent) pass attempts in the regular season with 13 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 107.3. In the postseason, Purdy was 41 of 63 (65.1 percent) for 569 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a rating of 109.8.