Photo Credit: Chris Mezzavilla
The 49ers are inching ever closer to their season debut on Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but they’ll have a few situations to navigate en route to that game. One thing that’s no long up in the air is the starting quarterback.
And the starting QB is…
Jimmy Garoppolo. And the crowd goes mild. This was no surprise, and Kyle Shanahan said from the outset that Garoppolo was coming in as the starter. Trey Lance impressed, but definitely showed that he’s still 21 with limited experience as a pocket passer at times. Garoppolo’s camp was pretty typical of himself, where he’d look solid for the most part, then throw a heinous interception.
What’s clear, though, is that his understanding of the offense, ability to make checks and identify defense looks pre-snap, and his timing and touch on basic parts of the 49ers’ offense is ahead of where Lance is at right now. You would expect that to be the case for a veteran of this offense, even if he’s a mostly average quarterback and Lance’s ceiling is sky high. This will take time.
Garoppolo made the announcement after Shanahan — with a grin on his face — declined yet again to explicitly announce the starter. Garoppolo said he’s been in the loop for some time.
“For a while. I told you guys a long time ago, I had a pretty good feeling about it,” Garoppolo said. “Kind of joked about it, but yeah, I always kind of knew where I stood and everything. And yeah, now it’s official, I guess.”
Trey Lance returns
Lance was “limited” on Wednesday, according to Kyle Shanahan, but threw and caught the ball, and took snaps for the first time since sustaining a “micro chip” fracture in the index finger of his right hand against the Las Vegas Raiders in the final preseason game.
There’s still a question as to whether Lance will actually be ready to play on Sunday, and Nate Sudfeld has been protected on the 49ers’ practice squad for the week, along with wide receiver Travis Benjamin and cornerback Dee Virgin, which indicates he may be needed.
“I’m not sure [if he’ll play] yet,” Shanahan said. “We’ll see how practice goes today. We haven’t been able to do anything live yet. He can do it on air, but that’ll be decided off of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.”
Trey Lance is back on the field taking snaps and throwing the football 👀
— KNBR (@KNBR) September 8, 2021
Injury news and more bad news for Jalen Hurd
There were a fair few points of concern on Wednesday, with Emmanuel Moseley, Jalen Hurd and Javon Kinlaw all missing practice with knee injuries, and Kevin Givens remaining out with a hip injury. The Moseley injury is new, and Shanahan’s assessment of Hurd was far more dour than of Kinlaw.
“I think Hurd’s is a little worse than Kinlaw’s,” Shanahan said. “I expect Kinlaw to be out there tomorrow. I’m hoping he will be. I’m not sure about Hurd.”
Hurd could be a candidate for injured reserve, Shanahan said, which was always a possibility with the way the 49ers structured the roster without a clear punt returner, and the fact that Hurd wasn’t healthy for most of camp. It’s looking like another season that could possibly be lost for Hurd, or at least one in which he may miss a significant amount of time.
If Givens and Kinlaw can’t go, the 49ers still have ample depth and defensive tackle Darrion Daniels on the practice squad, though with the potential need to bump up a corner and/or Sudfeld, that may not be possible. If Kinlaw plays, that’s all moot anyway.
The bigger concern is at corner, which explained the Josh Norman signing. Here was Shanahan’s assessment of the corner position:
“Well, we got a couple of options on practice squad guys we could pull up,” Shanahan said. “And I also think the five guys that we do have on our roster, they all should be healthy and available too. This will be [CB] Josh’s [Norman] second practice, so we’ll see how he goes throughout the week. Whether he feels comfortable with learning the stuff and where he is physically with just not being in camp very long. So, all those guys are a possibility though.”
The team also cut offensive tackle Corbin Kaufusi and re-signed linebacker Nate Gerry, who was previously cut before the start of training camp.