SANTA CLARA — Trey Lance surprisingly required follow-up surgery Friday on his right ankle, successfully removing stabilizing hardware that “irritated” a tendon after his initial surgery in September, the 49ers announced Saturday.
Lance, last year’s No. 3 overall draft pick and this season’s opening-game starter, is expected to make a full recovery and return for this spring’s organized team activities.
His season effectively ended Sept. 18 in the 49ers’ home opener, when he sustained a “fibula fracture and ligament disruption” upon colliding with a Seattle Seahawks defender on a run up the middle in that eventual win.
The 49ers (11-4) have gone on to win the NFC West behind Lance’s successors, Jimmy Garoppolo and now Brock Purdy, who’ll make his fourth straight start in Sunday’s game at the Raiders (6-9).
“Due to the location of the fracture, the required hardware placement was close to a tendon in Lance’s ankle,” the team said in Saturday’s statement. “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 has remained a constant presence at the 49ers’ facility since his injury, and he walked without a limp while coming out for the 49ers’ pregame warmups at last Saturday’s home win over Washington.
Garoppolo is four weeks removed from his fracture and has been out of a hard cast for two weeks, but he’s been using a knee scooter and orthopedic support boot amid his recovery. He is not on the 49ers’ injured reserve list, with a chance of returning in the playoffs. Josh Johnson currently is the 49ers’ backup to Purdy; Jacob Eason is on the practice squad.
Lance was able to do light jogging within two months of his initial surgery Sept. 19, and he accompanied the 49ers on their trips last month to Colorado Springs, Colo., and Mexico City. During recent games, he’s been on the sideline offering support to Purdy, a rookie who took over once Garoppolo sustained a foot fracture Dec. 4.
Last season, Lance went 1-1 as a rookie starter filling in for Garoppolo, completing 41-of-71 passes for 603 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions; he also had 168 rushing yards (38 carries, one touchdown).
Lance spent this past offseason entrenched as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, while Garoppolo’s future remained in limbo because March shoulder surgery scuttled his trade market. Garoppolo agreed to a pay cut to open the season as Lance’s backup, but that role lasted only five quarters until Lance got hurt against the Seahawks.
In the season-opening, rain-soaked loss at Chicago, Lance completed 13-of-28 passes for 164 yards with an interception, and he ran for 13 times for 54 yards; in the home-opening win over Seattle, he had as many carries (three, for 13 yards) as pass attempts (2-of-3, 30 yards) before getting hurt on his 16th snap.
Lance’s original contract runs through 2024, at a salary-cap charge of $9.3 million and $10.0 million over the next two seasons. Garoppolo is slated to hit free agency in March for the first time of his nine-year career. Purdy, the 262nd and final pick in this year’s draft, is signed through 2025 at a salary cap charge of roughly $1 million annually.
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