Jimmy Garoppolo will miss the 49ers Week 17 matchup against the Houston Texans allowing rookie quarterback Trey Lance to make his first start at Levi's® Stadium. Garoppolo sustained a Grade 3 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb – an injury that hampered his performance in the team's loss to the Tennessee Titans.
While missing all three of the week's practices, the 49ers were holding out hope that the veteran quarterback could return to the field for the Texans assuming that holding Garoppolo from throwing this week would increase his chances of healing faster in time for Sunday.
Despite Garoppolo and staff noting their confidence in his ability to play, rookie quarterback Trey Lance saw all of the week's first-team reps. Head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned the rookie is coming off of a "real good week" while getting starting reps for the first time since Week 5.
"Anytime you add in a rookie, you want to do everything you can to help the guy out to make it easier," Shanahan said of the team's confidence in Lance. "And to me, guys are locked in and they're helping him out in walkthroughs and stuff like that. But besides that, I don't think anyone thinks that they have to do anything extra. I think guys believe in Trey. I think guys expect him to go out there and play well."
In his first start against the Arizona Cardinals, Lance completed 15-of-29 passing for 192 yards and one interception in a contest that ended in a loss for the 49ers. This time around, Lance enters Sunday with an improved supporting cast in his second-career start, including a healthy stable of running backs.
Elijah Mitchell is set to return to the field for the first time since Week 13. Mitchell missed three-straight games while working through a concussion as well as a knee injury. Per Shanahan, the running back's pain and comfort were continuously assessed by the 49ers heading into Sunday as Mitchell is coming off of one of his strongest outings at practice this week.
"We'll play Elijah as much as he can handle," Shanahan said on Friday. "So that's about watching him, watching how his legs work, communicating with him – which is really what (49ers running backs coach) Bobby Turner does throughout the game. And when he's tired, Bobby doesn't hesitate. He puts Jeff Wilson Jr. in there. We have a number of guys we can put in there."
Here's a look at Sunday's inactvies heading into #HOUvsSF:
- QB DeShaun Watson
- DB Cre'Von LeBlanc
- DB Jimmy Moreland
- DL Chris Smith
- DL Derek Rivers
- DL Maliek Collins