Despite not practicing during the team's first two sessions of the week, the San Francisco 49ers are not closing the door on Jimmy Garoppolo making the start against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5.
After connecting on 14-of-23 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the first half of Week 4's matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, Garoppolo did not return to the contest in the third quarter after trying to work through a calf injury suffered in the first drive of the game.
The quarterback underwent an MRI on Monday which suggested Garoppolo suffered a calf contusion. While the quarterback has been considered "day-to-day," much of his status for Week 5 remains to be determined.
Although sidelined on Wednesday and Thursday, the quarterback is still preparing for the Cardinals 15th-ranked defense heading into Sunday and it could lead to a "game time" decision whether Garoppolo takes the field or not.
"It doesn't really change anything," Garoppolo said of his preparations for Sunday. "I think mentally, I feel pretty good just with the game plan (and) all the install we just put in. But physically, hopefully get out there tomorrow and we'll take it day by day and see where this calf gets."
With Garoppolo on the sidelines at practice, Trey Lance is getting his first look at starting reps. And unlike last week when the rookie was thrust into action at a moment's notice, Kyle Shanhan and the 49ers have a full week to construct a game plan catered to the rookie's skill set.
"To have a week, I think it was huge for him too having all that time where he could just go play quarterback and do some other cards, some other defenses and not really get tied down to learning what's in that day," Shanahan said on Monday. "Just playing football and getting better at that. These practices are more about learning what we do all morning, carrying it over to the field, correcting it at night, coming in the next morning with questions and how you build up through the week to where you get to Sunday night and you're confident and ready to go to play."
The 49ers will have one final practice on Friday before heading out to Arizona on Saturday in preparation for the divisional showdown. It will be an encouraging sign if Garoppolo does make an appearance during the team's final session of the week and could indicate that the veteran is able to return to play against the Cardinals.
In addition to Garoppolo, cornerback K'Waun Williams (calf), tight end George Kittle (calf), defensive linemen D.J. Jones (knee), Samson Ebukam (hamstring) and Arik Armstead (not injury related) did not practice on Thursday. Meanwhile, on a positive front, cornerback Josh Norman (chest), defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw (knee) and running back Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) were all limited participants. It's worth noting tackle Trent Williams was a full participant in advance of Sunday. Per Pro Football Focus, Williams is the highest-graded tackle in the NFL so far in 2021 (93.5).