The San Francisco 49ers are in the thick of the race for a wild card berth, and they may need to get to the promised land with a rookie quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an injury to his right thumb and he could be facing a multi-week absence. Rookie Trey Lance will take his snaps as the No. 1 quarterback in the meantime.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan told the media the injury was not a fracture, but it sounds serious based on subsequent reports. Ian Rapoport reported the injury was a chipped bone and a torn ligament. Adam Schefter followed up with a report that Garoppolo tore the UCL in his thumb.
Every tear can be different, but the first comparison I could find was Drew Brees. The Saints QB tore his UCL in Week 2 of the 2019 season. He missed five weeks and returned to the starting lineup in Week 8. That suggests that Garoppolo will miss some amount of time and very well could be done for the regular season and at least one or two playoff games if the 49ers can get into the postseason.
If that’s the case, No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance will be moving into the starting lineup to close out at least the regular season. The 49ers dealt multiple first round picks to move up to the No. 3 overall pick and select the North Dakota State product.
Lance came in for an injured Garoppolo in Week 4 against the Seahawks and started Week 5 against the Cardinals. He’s got tremendous arm talent, but he also has not played extensively over the past two years. He played one college game in 2020 due to COVID-19 and so that start against Arizona was only his second start since 2019.
All eyes will be on the rookie and head coach Kyle Shanahan the next two weeks. We’ll see plenty of the ground game, but the 49ers will need plays from Lance if they want to secure much-needed wins these next two weeks.