After Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a thumb injury during a practice on Monday, the San Francisco 49ers might have to start rookie QB Trey Lance, instead.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the former Pats’ QB suffered “a more significant injury” than just a sprained thumb. Garoppolo suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament and a fracture in his right thumb during the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.
49ers' QB Jimmy Garoppolo did not practice today due to what sources believe is an an injury he suffered early during the Thursday night loss at Tennessee. His status for Sunday's game against Houston now is uncertain.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 27, 2021
Jimmy G’s injury
The quarterback did not participate in the team’s bonus practice, which was held following the team’s loss to the Titans in Nashville. During the session, 49ers’ backup QB Lance took all of the snaps with the first team.
49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan elaborated how his QB got the injury. He said that Garoppolo sustained the injury during the second quarter’s 7-yard sack by Titans DT Denico Autry. He finished the game with two costly interceptions and missed a chance to score when throwing to FB Kyle Juszczyk in the first half.
During the third quarter’s opening drive, Garoppolo’s thumb injury became apparent while trying to throw a pass to Deebo Samuel. It resulted in an interception for the Titans and followed by a touchdown to tie the game. Shanahan knew that his QB was hurting, “We knew his thumb was hurting him,” but Garoppolo only told the staff when he got back to the bench.
Despite suffering from an injury, Garoppolo stayed on the field for the game’s entirety. During the 49ers’ disastrous performance, he could still move as if his thumb was not injured.
This incident is a big blow to San Francisco’s chances of making the playoffs as the team currently sits at 8-7. It’s also important to keep the team’s position in the NFC West for the playoff seeding.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 13 of 16 passes for 136 yards with one interception before he was injured vs. Titans.
He completed 13 of 19 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown and a pick after his injury. #49ers
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) December 27, 2021
Lance’s chance to impress Shanahan
Due to Garoppolo’s injury, the team has no other option but to start Lance, who has only started one game this season in week 5. He could not lead the team to a win facing the Arizona Cardinals.
The decision to start Lance will be based on how Garoppolo feels and how he looks in the pocket. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan also noted that Lance, the former first-round pick, has made good progress during his time to improve accuracy and decision-making.
“He’s (Lance) had a number of good days and he’s had some bad days like most guys do, but as far as his consistency and stuff, I feel this last month has been his best,” said Shanahan.
Although Lance only started one game this season, Lance is still the 49ers’ future quarterback. On the other hand, the senior QB’s future is still uncertain as the team can potentially cut him without any salary-cap damage.
What’s next for the 49ers
Aside from Garoppolo, the team also lost a couple of key players to injuries, such as Azeez Al-Sharair with a sprained knee and D.J. Jones with an ankle injury. Al-Sharair is expected to miss the next two games while Jones only has a limited playing time.
The next game where the San Francisco 49ers face the Texas Texans will be a tough matchup for the 49ers’ offense. After all, the Texans’ defense average one interception per game this season.