The San Francisco 49ers are still holding out hope that their starting quarterback will be on hand for their must-win Week 17 matchup against the Houston Texans.
In the 49ers Week 16 loss against the Tennessee Titans, Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a right thumb sprain on a sack by Denico Autry in the second quarter, where the defensive end drove the quarterback into the ground on the takedown.
It was later revealed the quarterback suffered a thumb sprain, in addition to a Grade 3 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament – an injury that hampered his performance in the second half. Garoppolo admitted that, while playing through adrenaline, he had to adjust his throwing style to compensate for the injury. Per head coach Kyle Shanahan, the quarterback does not need surgery as of now, and there is still a chance Garoppolo can play on Sunday.
"Because he didn't break the bone, it's stable," Shanahan said. "They told me (former NFL quarterback) Drew Brees had one in the last few years and his broke and that's why he had to get surgery. Jimmy's isn't in that spot. It's stable. That's why he doesn't need surgery right now. I think he's feeling a lot better today than he was a few days ago. That's why he's got a chance this week. And with it being that case, I'm hoping it only gets better with more time whether that's this week or the following week."
Nearly a week removed, the quarterback suggested his hand is feeling vastly better than immediately following the injury. He spent the past several days attempting to manage the swelling and taking precautionary measures to protect the injury.
"It's a torn ligament, so it is what it is," Garoppolo said. "The pain, it's not going anywhere. So, I know what that feels like. It's about being confident going out there and being able to do what I normally do with the football. So, we'll see where it gets us, but I feel good right now with it."
Given the injury to his hand, Garoppolo missed the 49ers first practice of the week on Monday, giving third-overall pick Trey Lance first team reps during the session. Should Garoppolo be unable to play on Sunday, Lance will likely make his first start since Week 5, where he stepped in for the veteran quarterback, who missed the game with a calf injury.
While Garoppolo feels confident in his ability to bounce back on Sunday, San Francisco will ultimately take the approach of doing what's best for the team. The 49ers have control of their own fate as they enter the final two games of the season. Currently occupying the sixth seed in the NFC race, the 49ers could punch their ticket into the postseason as early as this weekend with some outside help.
"As much as you want to look out for yourself and do what's right for you, the team comes first and I've lived my whole life like that," Garoppolo said. "It's just a matter of being on the same page with me, the coaches and trainers. We'll see how it looks today. If it looks good, it looks good. If it looks bad, it looks bad. It's just one of those things. You've got to test it out and go through it. But until we do that, it'll be hard to say. But we'll be on the same page and we'll do the right thing for the team."
Additionally, running back Elijah Mitchell will return to practice after missing San Francisco's last three contests. Mitchell has played through several injuries this season, however, he left the 49ers Week 13 game against the Seattle Seahawks with a knee injury.
Nose tackle D.J. Jones will also be limited as he continues to work through a knee injury suffered in Thursday night's loss.
Here's a full look at an early practice report for Wednesday's session in advance of #HOUvsSF:
Did Not Practice
- DL D.J. Jones (ankle)
- RB Elijah Mitchell (knee)