Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
It’s official. Jimmy Garoppolo will return for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. He’ll be back on the field for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain more than two weeks ago against the New York Jets.
Garoppolo returns, Mullens gets demoted
All signs seemed to be pointing towards Garoppolo’s return. General manager John Lynch said on KNBR Thursday that it was a positive sign that Garoppolo practiced for the second-straight day and his condition seemed to be improving. On Friday morning, Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR, saying that it was likely he’d start, but needed to get through Friday’s practice first.
He’s passed every benchmark. Garoppolo is back and said Friday of his ankle, “It’s feeling pretty good right now.”
Nick Mullens isn’t feeling very good right now. He lost his starting job and backup job in one fell swoop.
Shanahan confirmed Friday that Mullens would likely be inactive this Sunday, assuming the team needs the spot (they have enough other injuries they may not) and that C.J. Beathard is the new backup quarterback.
Status report and pending moves
Both Ziggy Ansah, whose season is likely over with a torn bicep, and K’Waun Williams, with a knee sprain and hip injury, will be placed on injured reserve before Sunday’s game, likely on Saturday.
With the release of Mohamed Sanu earlier this week and Richie James Jr. opening his practice window, it’s all but certain James is activated from injured reserve to the active roster. He’s the team’s preferred returner.
The following players are OUT for Sunday’s game:
CB Dontae Johnson (groin)
CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion)
The following players are questionable for Sunday’s game:
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (illness)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring)
Due to the depleted cornerback corps, the 49ers will have to make some additions. Jamar Taylor, the backup nickel, will at least be activated from the practice squad (new practice squad rules allow players to be activated twice and returned to practice squad), or signed to the active roster.
There will also need to be another corner added from the practice squad. Tim Harris Jr., who was removed from practice squad injured reserve is the more likely candidate, though if he’s not fit enough, Brian Allen would get the call-up. They are the only two corners on the practice squad. Tarvarius Moore also has experience playing as an outside and slot corner, especially against larger tight ends.
Jason Verrett and Ken Webster and the only current corners not on the injury report. If Witherspoon can’t play, Webster would probbly start.
The expected moves are as follows:
- Place Ansah, Williams on injured reserve
- Activate/promote Jamar Taylor from practice squad
- Activate Tim Harris Jr. or Brian Allen from practice squad
Deebo Samuel’s illness
There’s an unfortunate wrinkle with normal, non-COVID-related illnesses this season. Because of the increased precautions necessary, players essentially get the boot when they come back with an illness.
So, Deebo Samuel, who has just had to spend a significant amount of time resting over the last month, has not been able to practice with the team since Thursday and needs to pass a third COVID test before returning to the team facility.
“He was sick, a little achy, I think he might have had a fever at night,” Shanahan said. “Especially with flu season coming up, that’s going to be common, but if you have on symptoms you’re automatically out of the building, I think for at least two days, because you need to pass two tests confirm it’s not COVID and anyone who’s been around you also needs to be out for those two days. So that’s going to be the case with that stuff.”
Shanahan also mentioned that about 12 members of the 49ers came down with the flu in the Divisional Round against the Minnesota Vikings. A similar situation this year could be disastrous.