49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo to start against hometown Bears with potential Trey Lance cameo
Jimmy Garoppolo will start for the 49ers on Sunday against his hometown Chicago Bears and Trey Lance might be available for a cameo role.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s “worst game” of the season won’t cost him his job, and he will remain the 49ers’ starting quarterback for Sunday’s visit to Chicago, coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.
Garoppolo committed three turnovers, including a strip-sack fumble and two fourth-quarter interceptions, as the 49ers fell 30-18 Sunday night to the Indianapolis Colts.
It was their fourth straight loss, and Shanahan wanted to see how Garoppolo’s calf responded from it before affirming his starting role Monday.
“That was not a game where if Jimmy has one bad game, he’s losing his job,” Shanahan said on a conference call with reporters.
Rookie understudy Trey Lance did not suit up because of a sprained knee from his first start two weeks earlier, and he’s projected to resume practicing Wednesday, albeit in limited fashion with the potential of just a cameo role at Soldier Field, where the 49ers’ defense will face rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
“We know Trey is the future here,” Shanahan added. “He’s coming off a pretty big injury. We’re trying to do what’s best for him and our team. We’ll keep bringing him along, keep him prepared to always be ready to help on the plays we ask, always be ready in case Jimmy gets hurt, and being ready to be the future for us, too.”
Outright dubbing Lance “the future” is no major declaration considering what it cost to move up and draft him No. 3 overall.
When he returns to practice, don’t look for him to cut into Garoppolo’s first-team reps, however.
“Odds are, when it comes to the game plan, you’re not going to just start rotating quarterbacks, because it’s not an open competition right now,” Shanahan said.
The 49ers’ slump is not prompting Shanahan to go all-in on a youth movement. They may have lost four straight after a 2-0 start, but he noted they let victory slip away from in each loss, and that two wins could bring them to 4-4 where “you’ve got a chance.”
“It’s way too early for me to think about getting guys experience and giving up on the year in that way,” Shanahan added. “I’m trying to do what’s best for the team, and also what’s best for our players, not just Trey but other guys. Getting experience just to get it isn’t always beneficial.”
Garoppolo experienced what Shanahan referred to as “monsoon” conditions that made the football slip from his hands, such as on his final pass into quadruple coverage that produced an interception. On the first interception, Garoppolo’s ball went immediately toward Deebo Samuel, even though Mohamed Sanu broke wide open from the slot down the middle.
“Jimmy didn’t play as good as he could. He knows that, I know that,” Shanahan said. “Also it was hard circumstances for both quarterbacks.”
Garoppolo grew up in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights and won his 49ers’ starting debut at Soldier Field in December 2017.
OFFENSIVE LINE UPDATE
Left tackle Trent Williams remains day-to-day because of an ankle injury that did not respond well last week and forced him to not suit up Sunday.
The 49ers had started the same five offensive linemen every previous game, and Shanahan commended rookie Jaylon Moore’s starting debut, though he pointed out how only a couple of mistakes can make any NFL player feel like they cost them the game. Aside from a third-quarter penalty, Moore’s other noticeable hiccup came when he got beat on a pass rush that led to a strip sack of Garoppolo.
Garoppolo commended Moore afterward, “Held his own being his first start and everything. I thought he came with the right mindset pregame. You could tell he was locked in and ready to roll. I thought he played really well.”
Guard Aaron Banks suited up for the first time his rookie season, but he did not play a snap for an offense that, on 24 rushing attempts, managed only five first downs.
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt will miss a couple of weeks because of a bruised knee, likely thrusting rookie Talanoa Hufanga into position for his first start Sunday.
Veteran Tony Jefferson returned to the 49ers, albeit to the practice squad. The seven-year veteran spent training camp with the 49ers but sustained groin and hamstring injuries. He was waived two months ago from injured reserve with a settlement.
Defensive end Dee Ford and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair are in the post-concussion protocol and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (back) is feeling well after late-game issues Sunday night.
As for defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, his status does not sound encouraging after his knee injury kept him out Sunday. Shanahan said further evaluation will take place this week while they weigh a potential move to injured reserve.
TRADE DEADLINE LOOMS
If the 49ers’ harbored any intention of reuniting Garoppolo with Jets coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, they can forget about it now. The Jets, with Zach Wilson lost to a knee injury the next couple of weeks, traded for Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens. The trade deadline is next Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Garoppolo’s $24 million prorated salary likely doesn’t make him an appealing target on the market, nor are the 49ers in a position to deal him when Lance’s health remains in question.
WILLIS’ SUSPENSION ENDS
Defensive end Jordan Willis was activated from the reserve/suspended list, having served a six-game penance for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. The 49ers get a week roster exemption to evaluate him. He had 2 ½ sacks last season after being acquired form the Jets in an Oct. 27 trade (with a seventh-round pick) in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round draft pick.