All signs are pointing to Trey Lance making his first career start on Sunday
The good news for the 49ers is that Trent Williams practiced on Thursday, and that’s a good sign for his status Sunday against the Cardinals. Against Arizona, Williams might be the team’s most important offensive player.
Jimmy Garoppolo was not on-hand during the portion of practice where the media is allowed. On Wednesday, Jimmy Garoppolo said he would be “battling through it” and “it hurts, but it is what it is at this point” when asked whether he’d be 100% healthy for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
Garoppolo described his calf contusion/strain as a “freak injury.” The injury occurred on Jimmy’s right leg, the same leg he suffered the high-ankle sprain a year ago that ended Garoppolo’s season prematurely.
If Jimmy can’t push off his throwing leg, the 49ers were never going to run the risk of putting together a game plan for a hobbled Garoppolo. Jordan Elliot highlighted how rushing him back early last year proved to be a mistake. Take this week and the bye week to get fully healthy.
That opens the door for rookie Trey Lance to make his first career start. Lance has taken reps with the starters both on Wednesday and Thursday. However, San Francisco can remain in a “wait and see” mode to name who will start at quarterback moving forward.
It’ll be challenging to go back to Garoppolo if Lance plays well. A fascinating question is what happens if Lance pushes the limits as to what winning ugly looks like? You can easily go down a rabbit hole of scenarios for how the 49ers quarterback situation could play out. Let’s take it one start at a time with Lance. That would also mean Nate Sudfeld serves as Lance’s backup.
Here’s a look at the practice report from Thursday:
Did not practice:
TE George Kittle (calf)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (calf)
K’Waun Williams (calf)
Working on the side during defensive line drills:
Javon Kinlaw (knee)
Samson Ebukam (hamstring)
Josh Norman was no longer wearing a blue non-contact jersey, per the media on hand. That’s excellent news for the secondary, as Norman showed flashes of his prime before he went down with two bruised lungs against Green Bay.
From a matchup perspective, Norman makes more sense with his style of play to go against the big-bodied Cardinal receivers on the perimeter. This could allow DeMeco Ryans to get creative with how he uses his cornerbacks on Sunday.
Shanahan said on Wednesday the team would continue to manage Kittle during practice. This might be one of those years where Kittle doesn’t practice very much but is active on Sundays until he’s 100% healthy. Kittle was in pads, but that was all anyone saw.
Alex Mack returned to practice after having a Veterans Day off Wednesday. Elijah Mitchell practiced for the second straight day without a blue non-contact jersey. Mitchell should give the 49ers running game a boost. He and Trey Sermon will complement each other well this season.