By Jeff Howe, Matt Barrows and David Lombardi
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo does not require surgery for his foot injury and could return for the playoffs if his rehab goes smoothly, a league source confirmed the athlete on Tuesday. ESPN first reported the news. Here’s what you need to know:
- Garoppolo was ruled out of Sunday’s Week 13 game against the Dolphins with the injury after being dismissed third in the Niners’ opening run.
- Coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that the injury would end the season and require surgery.
- Garoppolo could return in seven to eight weeks and the problem isn’t a Lisfranc injury, according to ESPN.
Garoppolo, himself a substitute for injured Trey Lance, has led San Francisco to an 8-4 record this season and leads the NFC West. He was replaced in Sunday’s win by Brock Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Purdy went 25-to-37 for 210 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Garoppolo has thrown for 2,437 yards with a 67.2 percent completion rate and 16 touchdowns this season.
What that means for San Francisco
It was notable that the 49ers included quarterback Josh Johnson on the active roster but did not include Garoppolo on injured reserve, which he appeared destined for immediately after the injury. It underlines that there is renewed hope in the organization that he can return this season. The team has just two return-from-IR designations remaining, and those are expected to go to defenseman Javon Kinlaw (knee) and running back Elijah Mitchell (knee). They might not send Garoppolo to IR if they think he can come back. — wheelbarrow
What to expect from Purdy
No matter how Garoppolo’s prediction turns out, the 49ers will be leaning on the rookie to get them into the playoffs and maybe through them. The downside is that while Garoppolo is battle-hardened with 63 starts — six in the playoffs — 22-year-old Purdy will make his first-ever NFL start on Sunday.
The Positive: Purdy is very similar to Garoppolo in that he gets rid of the ball quickly and is accurate on short to medium throws. That means a list full of yards-after-catch targets — Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, etc. — that helped Garoppolo excel should work well for Purdy, too. — wheelbarrow
Signs of hope for Jimmy G
The initial prognosis after Garoppolo’s injury was grim. Teammates said Garoppolo was dejected at halftime in Miami, and coach Kyle Shanahan said he left the stadium in the third quarter. But optimism began to radiate from Garoppolo’s camp – and from the 49ers – on Monday. Garoppolo attended a team meeting and was “in a good mood,” according to Shanahan.
There was real hope that Garoppolo’s fracture wasn’t a Lisfranc injury, which can require recovery times of around half a year. This optimism was confirmed on Tuesday after extensive tests by doctors. Garoppolo solicited multiple opinions on his injury.
There also appears to be a chance that Garoppolo may return a week earlier than the initially reported schedule of seven to eight weeks – or in six weeks. Six weeks can be a standard baseline for returning to the game after a foot fracture, medical experts say – but the exact timing depends on a variety of factors, including which bones are broken and how close they are to the Lisfranc joint.
Regardless, every week is crucial as the wildcard round of the playoffs comes six weeks after Garoppolo’s injury. The Divisional Playoffs and NFC Championship game will take place seven and eight weeks later, respectively. — Lombardy
(Photo: Sergio Estrada / USA Today)