SANTA CLARA, California – After a three-week hiatus, Jimmy Garoppolo will return as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday that Garoppolo’s right calf has healed enough to start against the Indianapolis Colts. That announcement came after Garoppolo returned to practice Monday and took most of the reruns the rest of the week.
“It got better every day and now I see it 100 percent,” Shanahan said.
But the Niners will be left without several key players against the Colts. Backup quarterback Trey Lance (knee) and defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw (knee) and Maurice Hurst (calf) have been ruled out.
Starting left tackle Trent Williams is listed as doubtful with injuries to his elbow and ankle.
“It stems from the Cardinals game,” Shanahan said of Williams’ ankle injury. “We didn’t think it was as bad as obviously … He did it a bit in practice on Monday and hasn’t been able to go since then. For Trent, of anyone on this team, we will take him until game time.”
While Garoppolo is back in the mix, Lance, who replaced Garoppolo in a Week 5 loss to Arizona, will not be available against Indianapolis. Lance is dealing with a sprained left knee and did not practice all week, although the Niners are hopeful that he will return next week.
Veteran Nate Sudfeld will once again be elevated from the practice squad to serve as Garoppolo’s backup. Garoppolo suffered the calf injury early in their Oct. 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
After that game, Garoppolo quickly self-diagnosed the injury and said he hoped it was only a couple of weeks. That turned out to be accurate as Garoppolo only missed the Arizona game because the Niners had a Week 6 break.
“That couple of weeks he was a little aggressive, he went out the door with it,” Garoppolo said. “I’ve done it before in the past, injuries similar to that. So, it was like I knew my body and I knew it was going to take a couple of weeks. It was just a little tug. It wasn’t too serious.”
While working his way back from injury, Garoppolo stayed near the team’s facility in rehab with a view to playing Indianapolis. The most important thing, according to Garoppolo, was getting back to a point where he could make minor adjustments to his pocket without worrying about aggravating the injury.
“Pushing, just those quick jerky little movements, I guess you could tell,” Garoppolo said. “I just didn’t want to push too much last week, but I think during the bye week we’ve really made great strides, so I’m happy with what’s going on.”
If Williams is not available, the 49ers will turn to rookie Jaylon Moore as the starting left tackle. The absence of Hurst and Kinlaw leaves the Niners a bit thin on the inside of the defensive line, with DJ Jones, Kentavius Street, Zach Kerr and, at times, Arik Armstead the only healthy options to handle the inside two points.
Shanahan said the team will also activate running back JaMycal Hasty from injured reserve. He’s been out since week 2 with an ankle sprain on top.