His absence was not coronavirus related, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic reported at 12:49 p.m. PT.
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However, Garoppolo’s reason behind being away from the 49ers has to do with an injury he sustained from the Thursday, December 23, road loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Garoppolo is Dealing With Finger Injury
Head coach of the 49ers Kyle Shanahan revealed to reporters what Garoppolo’s ailment is: A right thumb sprain injury on his throwing hand, first noted here by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
But at 3:35 p.m. PT, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter revealed the full extent of Garoppolo’s injury:
When Did Jimmy G Injure Thumb?
San Francisco team reporter Keiana Martin added that Garoppolo could have injured his thumb on one of his sacks in the 20-17 loss to the Titans.
Garoppolo was sacked twice in the three-point loss: One from Denico Autry and the other from Bud Dupree. On the Dupree sack, which got reposted by the Titans Twitter account on Monday, Harold Landry III of Tennessee was seen pouncing on top of Garoppolo — which could signify Garoppolo’s injury occurred at that moment.
Here’s another clip of that sack, which occurred in the fourth quarter.
However, on the Autry sack, Garoppolo’s right hand is seen banging violently onto the Nissan Stadium grass during the second quarter of play — first fueling the speculation that his thumb got injured there.
Garoppolo clearly was trying to play through the pain. The 30-year-old went on to finish with 26-of-35 passing, 322 yards (his most since November 7 against the Arizona Cardinals), a fourth quarter touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk but threw two interceptions — the third time this season he’s thrown a pair of takeaways.
However, per David Lombardi of The Athletic, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk told him that Shanahan revealed the ailment took place in the second quarter.
Time for ‘Trey Area?’
Now comes this: Will the 49ers look to their future behind center for the upcoming home tilt on Sunday, January 2 against the Houston Texans?
Pro Football Focus proposed that question:
Will it officially be Lance season?
“Shanahan says that Trey Lance’s last month of practice has been his best month so far. Lance will have a chance to start against Houston if Garoppolo ‘can’t throw it as good as he normally does’ by Sunday,” Lombardi tweeted.
If Garoppolo isn’t good to go, Sunday’s interconference matchup will feature two rookie quarterbacks.
Lance was taken third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. But the eighth quarterback taken in that same class? The Texans’ starter Davis Mills.
Mills delivered one of his best outings of the season on Sunday: Completing a passer rating of 130.6 and throwing for 21-of-27 passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 41-29 upset of the Los Angeles Chargers.
And for Mills, Sunday will be a Bay Area homecoming for him. He starred at quarterback for 49ers general manager John Lynch‘s college alma mater Stanford. Mills earned a All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention nod in his senior season in Palo Alto in 2020.
But again, Lance was seen taking starting quarterback duties in the 49ers’ return to practice.