SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — In a San Francisco 49ers regular season already awash with injuries, head coach Kyle Shanahan is now facing the very real possibility that starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been lost for the remainder of the year.
Garoppolo initially suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of a victory over the New York Jets weeks ago. He sat out two games and was just appearing to return to form.
Then the ankle gave out again in Sunday’s loss to the NFC West leading Seattle Seahawks. Now, the 49ers are gathering medical opinions on whether Garoppolo may need season-ending surgery. Without surgery, he still is likely sidelined for at least 6 weeks.
“He essentially had a whole new one (sprain), just on the same foot,” Shanahan told Bay Area reporters on a call Tuesday. “When you have those high ankle sprains, you re-injure them a lot, but it was a different way that he did it. So, it’s basically doing it all over again in a different way.”
“It is worse than the last one. That’s why surgery is an option, so we’re just getting different doctors opinions now,” he added. “Whatever’s best for him long-term is obviously what we’ll decide on, but if he does need the surgery, then it’ll be all year. If not, then hoping six weeks, get a chance to get back at the end.”
When asked if Garoppolo may have been rushed back too soon from the initial injury, Shanahan said he did not think that was the case. Garoppolo did struggle in a loss to Miami in his first game back and was pulled from the game.
“We felt he was able to go in there and at least protect himself and make the throws, which we felt good about just watching him in that game,” Shanahan said. “I thought it was affecting him and how he was throwing it and everything, and the way the game was going. So, we took him out, but then he looked really good in practice for the last two weeks.”
“I don’t regret bringing him back in any of the times,” he added. “Obviously, the way the Miami game went, if I could have seen that before the game, we could have avoided bringing him back, but I thought he gave us a real good chance to win and we didn’t think he was risking injury by going further with it and he didn’t. That’s why he was able to come back the next two weeks even healthier, but he re-did something in the Seattle game and it was bad.”
Shanahan also brushed aside any questions about the team’s commitment to Garoppolo, who has missed long stretches with injuries since being traded by New England to the 49ers during the 2017 season.
“Jimmy gives us the best chance to win,” Shanahan told reporters. “He’s proven that, and it’s hard that he’s not going to be here for, to me, probably about at least six weeks, because it’s harder to win without him. Regardless of that, I want Jimmy playing as much as possible because I know when he does, he’ll only get better from the experiences of it. I think that’d be the most frustrating thing about it after having the best chance to win.”