Niners Face Nightmare Scenario After Second QB Injury: Report

49ers starting qb

Getty Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers.

Two weeks from now, the San Francisco 49ers could find themselves in a place every team dreads — turning to their third-string quarterback at a crucial point in the season.

As if the Niners injury luck had not already been as bad, or worse, than that of any other NFL franchise, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan announced Monday, October 11 that rookie QB Trey Lance was headed to the sidelines with a knee sprain. The timetable of his return is inexact.

The team released the news via social media Monday by way of its official Twitter account.

“Kyle Shanahan revealed that Trey Lance suffered a knee sprain in Sunday’s contest and could miss time,” the Niners wrote.

Lance’s Injury Not ‘Long-Term’ but Could Cause Short-Term Problems

Trey Lance start over Jimmy Garoppolo

GettyTrey Lance, of the San Francisco 49ers, suffered a knee sprain against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, October 10, 2021.

According to his head coach, Lance’s injury is not “long-term,” but it may be serious and protracted enough to cause the Niners some serious short-term headaches.

“It’s not a long-term injury,” Shanahan said Monday. “We should have a good idea of it in the next week, whether he’s got a chance for (the Indianapolis Colts) or not. If he doesn’t, they told me it should be like a one- to two-week thing, but possibly just one.”

The timing of Lance’s injury is fortunate in one regard — that San Francisco entered its bye week on the same day the sprain to the rookie’s knee was discovered via an MRI. The timing is decidedly less fortunate when considering that veteran QB starter Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a multi-week health concern of his own just one game prior.

Garoppolo suffered a calf injury in the first half of the Niners 28-21 home defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. One day later, test results were returned confirming the problem was only a contusion, meaning there was no structural damage.

The primary obstacle to Garoppolo’s return to the field of play then became a question of pain tolerance. It was one that he and the team failed to answer prior to the Niners’ Week 5 trip to Glendale, where Lance made the first start of his NFL career against the league’s last unbeaten team. San Francisco lost to the Arizona Cardinals, 17-10.

Shanahan told reporters following the game that Lance was far from guaranteed to keep the starting job if Garoppolo was healthy by the time of the Niners’ next game, adding that he would likely relegate the rookie back to the bench in that scenario.

“Nothing has changed,” Shanahan said.

Now, the potential circumstances may take decisions on whether to start either Lance or Garoppolo out of the coach’s hands, leaving him with limited options.

Starting Job Falls to QB Nate Sudfeld if Lance, Garoppolo Can’t Go

49ers nate sudfeld

GettyFormer Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld.

Garoppolo and Lance will each have two full weeks to convalesce through rest and rehabilitation before the Niners return to the field for a Week 7 showdown with the Colts in San Francisco.

While it is possible that one, or both, of the 49ers top two quarterbacks will be available Sunday, October 24, it’s also possible neither will be. In that case, the Niners would turn to former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who has spent the entire season to this point on San Francisco’s practice squad.

Sudfeld has appeared in 4 games over the course of his NFL career, all for the Eagles. He completed 25 of 37 passes for a total of 188 yards and 1 TD over the course of those contests. He also threw 1 INT and was sacked 5 times, according to Pro Football Reference.

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