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Jimmy Garoppolo’s injured thumb throws 49ers into intriguing QB situation

It may soon be rookie Trey Lance’s time to shine in San Francisco.

On Monday, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was noticeably absent from practice, with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirming that he had suffered a right thumb sprain during last Thursday’s loss to the Titans. A source elaborated on the injury Monday to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, noting the quarterback has a torn ulnar collateral ligament of the right thumb, as well as a fracture.

Garoppolo’s availability for Sunday’s game against the Texans remains unclear. 

Should the 30-year-old quarterback be unable to play, Lance would likely get the nod in what would be his second NFL start. The 49ers (8-7) are currently in sixth place in the NFC.

Garoppolo is coming off a highly-criticized performance against the Titans

 in which the ex-Patriot threw two critical interceptions as the 49ers blew a 10-0 lead in a crushing 20-17 loss.

Shanahan, who selected Lance third overall in this year’s NFL Draft, recently praised the North Dakota State product’s progress.

49ers quarterback Trey Lance on Nov. 7, 2021.
49ers quarterback Trey Lance on Nov. 7, 2021.
Getty Images

“This last month of Trey has been his best consecutive four weeks at practice since we’ve had him,” Shanahan said, per ESPN. “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 and stuff, I feel this last month has been his best.”

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Dec. 12, 2021.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Dec. 12, 2021.
Getty Images

Lance, who made his first NFL start in October against the Cardinals, remains the quarterback of San Francisco’s future, as verified by Shanahan last month. Unlike Lance, Garoppolo’s future remains something of a question mark as the 49ers can potentially cut him this offseason without any salary cap damage. GM John Lynch made waves over the weekend when he “accidentally and unknowingly” liked a tweet which said to “leave Jimmy in Nashville.”

What do you think? 

So, what happens if Lance comes in and picks apart a woeful Texans defense and puts the 49ers on the brink of clinching a playoff spot? It is a question Lynch and Shanahan may soon have to answer.