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49ers quarterback Brock Purdy feels 'normal' as he recovers from elbow surgery

 SANTA CLARA -- Brock Purdy knows the process of getting ready for the season after major elbow surgery in the offseason is a deliberate one with each day providing a new test.

He got an unexpected one earlier this week when teammate Clelin Ferrell hit his surgically repaired throwing arm as he attempted a throw, knocking the ball out and causing San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to "to hold my breath so I didn't lose my mind."

Brock Purdy
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy throws during a drill Aug. 4, 2023, in Santa Clara. Godofredo A. Vásquez / AP

For Purdy, it was just another play on his road back to being the starting quarterback.

"I feel like as a coach, a teammate watching, yeah, they might be scared about that, especially how things ended last year with my arm," Purdy said Friday. "But, honestly for myself, it's just football. I wasn't even thinking about it. He hit the ball out of my hand and I was going through to finish the throw and the ball ended up being on the ground. It's football. Was I mad at Clelin or anything like that? I told him, 'Dude, it's football. I get it. We're in a competing environment. Things happen.' But for myself, was I scared about it? Was I timid after that? No."

Purdy tore the ligament in his throwing elbow in the NFC title game loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 29 and underwent surgery in March. He began throwing in late May and has been taking part in two out of every three practices since training camp opened last month.

Purdy said he doesn't feel like he needs more milestones along the comeback like taking his first hit in a game from an opponent to himself that he has full recovered.

"For me I feel like normal when I'm out there, so I feel like I just got to get into a rhythm and play and go through progressions and just play quarterback," he said. "It's not really, 'Hey, I have to get tackled here just so I feel good about my arm.' There's nothing like that, that goes through my mind. So, I just play football, I go through my reads, and I feel normal."

After showing some signs of rust early in camp as he worked his way back from the surgery, Purdy has looked sharper in recent days.

He got his most extensive work during a heavy practice Friday. He connected on a deep TD pass to Deebo Samuel in practice Friday and had eight straight completions at one point during team drills. His one big mistake Friday came when he was pressured by Ferrell and threw a short pass that was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson.

"I just look at it as a process," he said. "The first day you come in, you're not going to be All-Pro and be killing it right off the get go. It's like a process of the formations, the operation, getting on track with guys, the receivers being on time and in rhythm. Then from there you progress. Where we're at in camp right now, for me it's like, yeah, if you have a good day, great, but I have to continue to try to stress myself and get to another level. If it's a bad day and you wish you would've been better."

While Purdy got the heaviest load of work, backups Sam Darnold and Trey Lance split time with the second team, with Brandon Allen getting third-team work.

Darnold and Lance have been sharing time most of camp as the biggest question at quarterback for the Niners is who will be the backup to Purdy once the season starts.

It's a big difference for Lance, who went into his second camp last summer as the starter before a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 sidelined him and eventually opened the door for Purdy to succeed him.

"For me, nothing's changed the last three years," Lance said. "I feel like I've attacked it the same way. I feel like I'm in a much better spot, myself personally this year, than I have been the past two years. But mindset-wise, mentally for me, I feel like if I'm not putting that same pressure on myself in practice, then the game's a lot harder."

NOTES: There was a mild scare when Samuel landed hard after catching the TD and stayed down for a few minutes. He then walked off under his own power and returned later in team drills. ... OL Jon Feliciano returned to practice after missing a day with a shoulder injury. ... OL Aaron Banks remains sidelined in concussion protocol. ... The Niners signed DL Daelin Hayes to a one-year deal and placed DL Darryl Johnson on IR.

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