49ers' Trey Lance Has 2nd Surgery on Ankle Injury After 'Irritation' from Hardware

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2023

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers announced in a statement on Saturday that quarterback Trey Lance underwent a second and successful surgery on his right ankle Friday.

The rest of the statement read:

"The second procedure was performed to remove hardware that was inserted during the initial surgery in September. Due to the location of the fracture, the required hardware placement was close to a tendon in Lance's ankle. During the rehab process, their close proximity proved to cause irritation in his ankle. After consulting with multiple experts, the decision was made to have the hardware removed to prevent future issues in the ankle. Lance will continue his rehab process and is expected to make a full recovery and return for OTAs."

The 22-year-old Lance was just two games into his first season as the 49ers' starting quarterback when he not only broke his fibula but also tore his deltoid and syndesmotic ligaments.

It was a huge disappointment for the second-year player, who was dubbed the quarterback of the future after the Niners traded three first-round picks and a third-rounder to move up in the 2021 NFL draft and select him No. 3 overall.

In eight career games (four starts), Lance has thrown for 797 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, completing just 54.9 percent of his passes while taking six sacks. He's also rushed for 235 yards and a score. The team is 2-2 in his starts.

Keeping quarterbacks healthy has been a struggle for the 11-4 Niners, and arguably the biggest storyline for the team in an otherwise excellent season. In an early December matchup with the Miami Dolphins, Lance's backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, broke his foot.

That elevated Brock Purdy to the starting role, and the Niners have responded by going 3-0 with him under center, part of an eight-game winning streak. Purdy has played well, throwing for 912 yards, eight scores and three interceptions.

Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Garoppolo "is out of the walking boot but not fully walking yet, sources say. Understandably, he's a ways off from being able to play. Under the absolutely best case scenario—and even this is unlikely—he could serve as a backup in the NFC title game (Jan. 29) or Super Bowl LVII (Feb. 12) if the 49ers make it."

In other words, this is Purdy's team for the time being. So far, so good for the rookie seventh-round pick, though far bigger tests await come the postseason.

Play well enough, however, and the Niners may find themselves with an unexpected quarterback battle come next season's training camp.