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San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo has UCL tear and fracture in right thumb, unlikely to play Week 17

Vincent Frank

Update: Reports suggest that Jimmy Garoppolo has a UCL tear and fracture in the right thumb, making him highly unlikely to play Week 17.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers are now in must-win mode heading into their Week 17 outing against the hapless Houston Texans.

San Francisco controlled its own destiny ahead of last Thursday’s road outing against the Tennessee Titans, only to throw the game away in epic fashion.

That included Garoppolo tossing two ugly interceptions and missing wide-open receivers for would-be touchdowns.

Practicing for the first time since that loss, the 8-7 49ers were without Garoppolo on Monday. Rookie Trey Lance took first-team reps with the starter sidelined due to what the club describes as a right thumb sprain he suffered in the second quarter of said game. Garoppolo will be evaluated again on Wednesday. For now, it’s an open question whether he’ll be able to go against Houston.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that Garoppolo suffered what is thought to be “a more significant injury” than a right thumb sprain.

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Impact of Jimmy Garoppolo injury

san francisco 49ers jimmy garoppolo injury
Dec 23, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass during pre-game warmups before their game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of people in Northern California have been calling for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to pull the plug on Garoppolo and insert Lance as San Francisco’s starter.

Despite some recent success on the part of the embattled veteran, his performance in a 20-17 loss to the Titans added even more fodder to the belief that Garoppolo should be benched.

In all, those numbers don’t seem to be terrible. With that said, Garoppolo has a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal and one of the best play-callers in the NFL. Objectively, he has not been much more than a mid-tier starter in the NFL.

The question becomes whether Lance can handle the full-time duties. In limited action this season, the rookie No. 3 pick has accounted for four total touchdowns against one interception. He has not thrown a pass since starting in Garoppolo’s stead Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. That game saw Lance complete 15-of-29 passes for 192 yards in a 17-10 loss.

For all of his faults, Garoppolo boasts a 30-14 record with the 49ers since joining the team midway through the 2017 season. All other 49ers starters during the Shanahan era are a combined 7-28.

At 8-7 on the season, San Francisco is currently the seventh seed in the NFC. However, the team does not control its own destiny. Should the 49ers finish in a three-way tie for the final two wildcards spots with the Eagles (8-7) and Saints (7-7), they would be on the outside looking in.

Stay tuned, there’s going to be a whole heck of a lot emerge from this story once Garoppolo is evaluated again later in the week. For now, San Francisco remains heavy favorites to take out Houston before a huge Week 18 outing against the first-place Los Angeles Rams.

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