Surgeon says 49ers' Trey Lance could be fully healed before end of regular season

The injury the former North Dakota State quarterback suffered Sunday was deemed season-ending by the team but a foot and ankle specialist said it could be fully healed in 10 to 12 weeks.

San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Trey Lance (5) is helped off the field after being injured against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter of a Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
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SAN FRANCISCO — Dr. Kenneth Jung, a foot and ankle surgeon who is a consultant to the Los Angeles Rams, said Trey Lance's ankle injury, as it was described by the team in a statement Monday, could be fully healed in 10 to 12 weeks.

That is, Lance, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season, could be back to full strength with several weeks left in the regular season. Jung noted he doesn't have the full details of Lance's injury and that it's understandable the 49ers would exercise caution with Lance, 22, the No. 3 pick in 2021.

"There could be a lot of non-medical factors that are playing a part in shutting him down — protecting their investment in the future," said Jung, who works at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. "But usually this injury is about 10 to 12 weeks."

Lance suffered a broken fibula and what the team termed "ligament disruption" in the first quarter of a 27-7 win over Seattle on Sunday. The ligament damage, Jung said, probably was caused by a dislocation, with bones shifting out of joint. The torn ligaments are likely in the syndesmosis, the complex of ligaments involved in high ankle sprains.

Jung said Lance's fibula probably was stabilized with a plate and screws. That hardware likely will remain during Lance's career, as it involves another operation to remove, and the bone can be weaker without it.


Jung expects the dual-threat QB to have the same mobility when he returns to the field.

Jung said, "I think if things go according to plan as far as his rehab, and the injury is as they have described, you would expect him to make a full recovery."

Lance's injury is less severe than the broken ankle suffered by Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott on Oct. 11, 2020. Prescott, who had a compound fracture, initially had a recovery timeline of four to six months. Prescott required a second surgery about two months after his initial procedure. Despite requiring multiple surgeries, however, Prescott was still medically cleared before the start of training camp in 2021, about eight months after he was hurt.

Jung said Lance's broken ankle is a fairly typical football injury.

"In the foot and ankle world of the NFL, or the collegiate level, it's unfortunately pretty common," Jung said.

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