SANTA CLARA — Rehabilitation from a season-ending injury can be isolating for NFL players, but 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has been able to rely on teammate Elijah Mitchell for support.
The young quarterback suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 of the 2022 NFL season, which required surgery and a long journey back to health that still isn’t over. Lance was seen wearing a protective walking boot on his injured leg when players were clearing out their locker rooms Tuesday.
“This year, obviously from a physical standpoint, it was frustrating early on, but I got great people around me,” Lance said. “Guys like Elijah Mitchell was the big one for me. Just because he was rehabbing his MCL twice. Spent a ton of time with him in the training room.”
Lance missed very little time around the facility, working with the team’s medical and training staff throughout his recovery. The 23-year-old participated in every meeting, in person or via video, and shared that he still was able to learn a lot, even while unable to play.
“It’s been ups and downs for sure,” Lance said. “Last year I got to be on the field, so that helped a lot. At the same time, I was still learning throughout the whole year. Just watching these guys play and lock in in meetings, watching these guys on the practice field from afar, it inspired me the whole year.”
Since the 49ers selected him with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance has appeared in four games, completing 56 of his 102 attempts for 797 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. The young play-caller also has rushed for 235 yards on 54 attempts, with one touchdown and a fumble.
Lance shared he recently has been able to throw the football while standing, but it will take the next four to six weeks to recover fully from a second surgery to remove hardware from his ankle that was irritating soft tissue in the area.
“It wasn’t hard for me to keep going or anything like that,” Lance said. “That’s my only option, so it was never really hard mentally from that standpoint as people would think. It’s hard every year. This year I have a better understanding that it won’t be the same.”
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The North Dakota State product will get the lion’s share of work in the coming months, after Brock Purdy suffered a UCL tear in his throwing elbow during the NFC Championship Game.
Lance will head into the offseason program eager to be fully recovered from his injury and ready to show he has what it takes to compete for the 49ers' starting quarterback role.