Brock Purdy spent his offseason working his way back from a significant injury to his elbow that was sustained during January's NFC title game loss to the 49ers. That hard work paid off Saturday night, when Purdy got back on the field for San Francisco's second preseason game against the Broncos.
Purdy started the game and led the 49ers on a 10-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a Jake Moody field goal. He went 4 of 5 for 65 yards on that drive that included a 25-yard completion to Deebo Samuel on his first pass attempt.
"I thought he did real good, all the plays that he had he made and I don't think he had a bad one," Shanahan told reporters following the game, per the team transcript.
San Francisco fans received good news last week when coach Kyle Shanahan announced that Purdy may be healthy enough to play preseason football. Purdy hadn't played in a game since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during San Francisco's loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.
"It felt really good just to be out there with the guys in a game environment," Purdy said. "Obviously just get the nerves out a little bit. Just the buildup to a game and everything, and then being able to get an early completion to Deebo and get things rolling. So, it felt really good to be able to get out there and drive and honestly, just be in a game environment, like I said. So, yeah, I'm excited about it."
Purdy, who went 7-1 as the 49ers quarterback last season as an undrafted rookie, underwent a procedure to remedy the injury on March 10. He then began a gradual training program and was cleared by the team to return to practice July 25. Purdy has taken reps exclusively with the 49ers' first-team offense during the practices he has participated in.
Barring a setback, the goal is for Purdy to play in the 49ers' season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10. The Steelers' defense, a group that finished 10th in the NFL in points allowed last season, features several Pro Bowlers in defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh's defense also features outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who received a hefty contract extension this offseason after recording 14.5 sacks in 2022.
The Steelers' defense and the 49ers' offense should be one of Week 1's more interesting matchups. Along with Purdy, the 49ers' offense features perennial Pro Bowlers in running back Christian McCaffrey, Samuel, tight end George Kittle and offensive tackle Trent Williams.