SANTA CLARA, California – Although the San Francisco 49ers expect rookie quarterback Trey Lance to return to practice Wednesday, veteran Jimmy Garoppolo will continue to be the starter Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
Following Sunday night’s 30-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan expressed some uncertainty about who his quarterback would be against Chicago, citing the need for updates on Lance’s health. and especially Garoppolo before a decision could be made.
In the less than 24 hours that followed, Shanahan gathered enough information to declare Monday afternoon that Garoppolo will remain the starter in hopes that Lance can do enough in practice this week to play situationally against the Bears.
“In terms of deciding who will be the quarterback, that has to do with Jimmy’s health,” Shanahan said. “Jimmy, I wanted to see how his calf was. Today is fine so it will start and hopefully Trey will get back to practice and he will have a good enough week to get dressed and if he ends up getting dressed there will always be a good chance that get some plays there. “
Although Garoppolo apparently came out of the game well, he said after the game that he could feel his previously bruised and distended right calf as the game progressed, although he noted that it did not hinder him.
“It stayed,” Garoppolo said. “I definitely felt it at times. But it is what it is.”
Still, Garoppolo had what Shanahan called Monday “his worst game” of the season against the Colts, going 16 of 27 for 181 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble.
With the Niners in the midst of a four-game losing streak, Lance’s pace to get his shot has gotten stronger, at least among the fans. But Shanahan was more decisive Monday when he discussed his situation as a quarterback, making it clear that he did not view the Indianapolis game as a referendum on Garoppolo’s status as a starter.
“We didn’t go into that game thinking Jimmy was one bad game away from losing his job or something like that,” Shanahan said. “I definitely thought he could have played better, but that wasn’t a game where ‘Hey, if Jimmy has a bad game, he’s losing his job.’ We know Trey is the future here and we’re trying to do what’s best for him. and for our team. “
For now, that means getting Lance’s sprained left knee back to fully healthy. Lance suffered that injury in his first and only NFL start, an Oct. 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. That start only happened due to the calf injury Garoppolo suffered the week before.
Lance was 15 of 29 for 192 yards with an interception against the Cardinals and rushed 16 times for 89 yards. However, all that rush took its toll, as Shanahan announced the day after that game that Lance would miss a week or two with a knee sprain.
Lance was inactive before the game against the Colts with Nate Sudfeld backing up Garoppolo. This week, Shanahan expects Lance to return to practice on Wednesday, which at least opens the door for him to return to the backup role behind Garoppolo.
“Trey hasn’t practiced in two weeks since his knee injury, so when he comes back, which is to be expected on Wednesday, he will probably be limited,” Shanahan said. “I haven’t decided yet, we’ll have to see where it is. Odds are, when it comes to the game plan and stuff and what we’re doing, you’re not going to start rotating quarterbacks because it’s not open competition in this moment “.