Jimmy Garoppolo will make his return to the field since the first half of the 49ers Week 2 win over the New York Jets. Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain following a sack by Quinnen Williams that sidelined San Francisco's starter for two and a half games. Garoppolo returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity as the team opted to evaluate him throughout the week prior to determining the quarterback's status for Sunday.
"He did a good job. Each day got better," Kyle Shanahan said. "Never felt too sore the next day, so we needed to hear that today and see him out there today. We feel good to go and he'll be starting Sunday."
Shanahan also revealed a change at the backup quarterback position. C.J. Beathard will dress behind Garoppolo for the first time since 2018. Nick Mullens has served as Garoppolo's primary backup since the start of the 2019 season.
"Nick understands the situation (and) understands the business," Shanahan said. "He didn't have his best game. C.J. has been there before. Jimmy has been been there before. Nick just had a rough game and I think he played better than it looked. It's never as bad as it seems. But that's kind of a life of a backup.
"It's kind of tough to earn that spot in practice and really tough if you don't have preseason games and rarely get in like they did last year. Nick understands. C.J. has been through that since that Oakland game. C.J. came in and played well and I know Nick's happy for C.J. because they're close and respect each other. And Nick's not going to make too big a deal of it. But next time he ever gets this opportunity, he'll be ready."
The 49ers will get a boost to their defense in Week 5. In addition to Jimmie Ward being available, Dre Greenlaw is cleared to play in Week 5. Greenlaw missed two games with a quad injury and was a limited participant in practice this week. San Francisco wasn't too concerned with Ward's wrist soreness, however, held him out of two practices for precautionary measures.
"Dre is a helluva player," Shanahan said. "Everyone knows what he did for us last year. He's a guy who doesn't mess up. He does his job. He's a very smart tackler and he also has a knack for making plays. So, getting Dre back is huge and can't wait to get him in there."
The 49ers could also get reinforcements on their offense on Sunday pending the status of running back Raheem Mostert. Mostert missed two games with a knee injury and was a limited participant in practice leading up to Sunday. The ball carrier was listed as questionable on the 49ers status report and the team will lean on how he feels on Sunday to determine his availability for Week 5.
"It's really just how he's feeling then," Shanahan said. "He got a little bit more work today (and) he was able to get through it. We didn't put them through everything, but I really want to see how he responds tomorrow, how he wakes up tomorrow and how he feels on Sunday."
Deebo Samuel appeared on the team's practice report after missing back-to-back practices with an illness. The wideout had a fever and felt "achy" on Thursday. Due to COVID protocols, Samuel was separated from the team, however, has been a distant participant of team meetings via video conferencing.
According to the head coach, as of Friday, Samuel has no symptoms and is "feeling great." The wideout has passed two COVID tests and will need to pass a third before rejoining the team on Saturday and returning to play on Sunday, per the league's testing protocols.
The 49ers will have decisions to make on Saturday as Ahkello Witherspoon was ruled questionable with a hamstring injury and fellow cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson OUT. Johnson played through a groin injury in the 49ers Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, Moseley is set to miss his second-straight game with a concussion. Shanahan has until 1 pm PT on Saturday to make any necessary roster moves ahead of Sunday's game with potentially four cornerbacks (Richard Sherman on IR) inactive against the Dolphins.