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Ex-49er Mullens details recovery from same injury as Purdy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens and his 49ers counterpart Brock Purdy have something rare in common.

In December of 20202, when Mullens was a member of the 49ers, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm. The injury happened in nearly the exact same way Purdy’s did in the NFC Championship Game in January.

While at Tight End University in Nashville, Mullens spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area and divulged that when he saw Purdy get hit in the NFC title game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he instantly thought the Iowa State product suffered the same injury as he had just two years prior.

Turns out that Mullens was correct.

After the injury Mullens was faced with the same hope as Purdy — that he would be able to have the “internal brace” procedure in order to return to the field, instead of Tommy John surgery, which would have kept him off the field for more than a year.

Now fully recovered and set to start his second season as the backup for the Vikings, Mullens is thankful that he was able to have the procedure with a shorter recovery.

“I’m really grateful for the operation,” Mullens said. “If the operation didn’t exist, I don’t know where my career would have gone because I would have had to miss the entire next year.”

The 28-year old quarterback admitted that sticking to the plan of reduced throwing while working his way back was challenging. All Mullens wanted to do was be on the field with his teammates again.

“I think it was a gradual process,” Mullens said of his rehab. “I think that was the biggest thing I kept in mind — just take it day by day. As time went on, the better it felt and now I feel great.”

RELATED: Purdy ahead of schedule, throwing three times a week

Mullens, who played with the 49ers from 2018 through 2020, said that the physical recovery was challenging but the mental aspect of his rehabilitation was just as important. As with any major surgery, trusting that the repaired body part will preform as it is supposed to can be difficult to do.

“Just getting that confidence back,” Mullens said. “I think that was the biggest thing. You hurt your arm, post-COVID, just a lot of things going on. Keeping your mentals right as you’re going through the rehab, having the mental strength and confidence going through that rehab, I think they go hand in hand.

“I worked on my mind just as hard as I did my elbow and I thought that was very critical and crucial and it paid off,” Mullens said.

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