Jimmy Garoppolo has likely played his last snap with 49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers aren’t anywhere close to saying one way or another, but Jimmy Garoppolo might have easily played his final snap in a red and gold uniform.

There’s a very real possibility the Jimmy Garoppolo era with the San Francisco 49ers didn’t go out with a bang, rather with a whimper.

Garoppolo suffered a torn UCL and fracture in his throwing hand during the Niners’ Week 16 Thursday Night Football loss to the Tennessee Titans. And while Jimmy G played with the injury and ended the game, news broke on Monday — first from head coach Kyle Shanahan and later from ESPN’s Adam Schefter — about a potentially serious injury.

One that could possibly end Garoppolo’s season.

Shanahan didn’t say that, of course. Neither did Schefter. If anything, they merely disagreed with the nature of the injury itself, Shanahan saying there wasn’t a fracture and Schefter saying there was.

Garoppolo seems awfully unlikely to start San Francisco’s Week 17 game against the Houston Texans, opening the door for the quarterback the 49ers fully intend to replace him, Trey Lance, to get his second NFL start ever.

However, there’s a chance Garoppolo’s latest setback is of the season-ending variety.

Jimmy Garoppolo could be at risk of missing rest of 49ers season

The Niners have no need to disclose the full status of Garoppolo’s injury, at least not right now. Why give Houston extra time knowing fully well who’ll be under center? Especially with some quarterbacks having played through it, albeit with limited success.

Dr. Matt Provencher, a former physician for the New England Patriots and now appearing on Fox Sports, speculated Garoppolo might only miss a week, perhaps two, especially if the thumb can be stabilized in some sort of way.

That’d be the optimistic viewpoint, of course. And if San Francisco winds up in the playoffs, Garoppolo would likely get one final shot.

Dr. Nirav Pandya, however, was much more bearish on Garoppolo’s chances to return quickly, pointing out the following:

A five- or six-week timeline would mean the 49ers would have to make the Super Bowl for Garoppolo to suit up for them again.

Jimmy Garoppolo won’t be back in 2022

We can’t deal in absolutes, but we can highly speculate. To quote Shanahan, we “can’t guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday,” let alone who’ll be on the roster in 2022.

For all intents and purposes, though, Garoppolo is gone next season, a casualty of both his $27 million owed to him in 2022, and in light of his on-field limitations and injury history. With key players like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and EDGE Nick Bosa eligible for new contracts, along with pending free agents whom the Niners would like to bring back, such as left guard Laken Tomlinson and defensive tackle D.J. Jones, letting go of Garoppolo and letting Lance play on his affordable rookie deal are the only feasible means to retain the rest of the roster.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo gaffes vs. Titans show why 49ers drafted Trey Lance

Either by way of an offeason trade or outright release, Garoppolo will be gone. That’s the almost-guaranteed speculation.

If this winds up being true, Garoppolo’s final game with San Francisco will be that 20-17 loss to Tennessee, one in which he threw two ugly interceptions, missed a wide-open touchdown chance to fullback Kyle Juszczyk and suffered yet another injury.

And his final play would have been that desperate pass to Samuel, which resulted in a series of laterals to try and pull off the last-ditch win over the Titans.

Not the best way to have gone out.

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