What Jimmy G thumb injury means for Lance, 49ers


Rookie quarterback Trey Lance has been making significant progress behind the scenes over the second half of the season, by all accounts.

Now, he might have a chance to show his improvements to everyone at a time when the 49ers need it the most.

Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not practice Monday due to a right thumb sprain. Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, when the club returns to practice to resume preparations to face the Houston Texans in a crucial Week 17 game at Levi's Stadium.

Garoppolo sustained the injury Thursday night when Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Denico Autry sacked him in the second quarter. Shanahan said he thought the injury impacted Garoppolo's errant throw early in the third quarter that was intercepted.

"It didn't feel great today, wasn't able to throw today, and we'll see how it is on Wednesday," Shanahan said. "Hopefully, it'll get better."

If Garoppolo is cleared to play but not at 100 percent, Shanahan will have to make a decision which quarterback gives the 49ers the better chance to win.

"This last month of Trey has been his best consecutive four weeks of practice since we've had him," Shanahan said. "He's had a number of good days, and he's had some bad days, like most guys do. But as far as his consistency, I feel this last month has been his best."

Lance has not attempted a pass since Oct. 10, when he started against the Arizona Cardinals in a 17-10 loss. On the season, Lance has completed 25 of 48 pass attempts (52.1 percent) for 354 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. 

Lance sustained a fractured right index finger in a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and the 49ers believe that injury was a reason for some of his accuracy issues earlier in the season.

Drafted No. 3 overall, in part because of his dual-threat skills, Lance has rushed for 137 yards and one touchdown on 30 rushing attempts.

The 49ers are currently in the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture. They do not entirely control their own fate, but victories to end the regular season over the Texans and Los Angeles Rams would put them in a good position for the postseason.

The 49ers are not in better position for the playoffs because of several games they wish they could have back, including the loss to Tennessee on Thursday.

The 49ers lost twice to the worst Seattle Seahawks team in more than a decade. They lost twice to the Arizona Cardinals, including once when Colt McCoy was at quarterback in place of Kyler Murray.

But that does not matter now. The 49ers still have a good chance at making the playoffs, but they must beat the Houston Texans on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

Among quarterbacks who've thrown for at least 3,000 yards, Garoppolo ranks eighth with a passer rating of 99.6. He has thrown 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ranks second in the NFL behind Cincinnati's Joe Burrow at 8.5 yards per pass attempt.

RELATED: Shanahan's strategy with Jimmy G, whether smart or safe, is effective

His league-best streak of games with a 90-plus passer rating was stopped at eight games on Thursday in the 49ers' 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. He completed 26 of 35 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown but threw two costly interceptions.

The 49ers are 8-6 in the games Garoppolo has started this season, including a loss against Seattle when he did not play in the second half due to a calf injury. The game was tied 7-7 at halftime.

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