Jimmy Garoppolo Injury Update: Will Trey Lance play Saturday vs. Packers?

Will 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo fight through a shoulder injury to play in the Divisional Round, or will Trey Lance be forced to step in?

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo dealt with a number of injuries throughout the regular season. Now, he’s working through a new health issue as the Divisional Round approaches. Will Garoppolo be able to play against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night? Or will first-round rookie Trey Lance be forced to step in?

Jimmy Garoppolo has a shoulder injury

Garoppolo missed two games in the regular season due to injury issues. A calf injury sidelined him for a Week 5 contest against the Cardinals. Then, in Week 16, Jimmy G went down with a painful thumb injury that forced him to miss Week 17. That ailment nearly caused him to sit out Week 18’s win-and-get-in game against the Rams, but Garoppolo was able to play through it and earn a victory.

That thumb injury is still affecting Garoppolo, but he’s now facing yet another issue — a shoulder sprain that he suffered in San Francisco’s Wild Card round victory over the Cowboys. Garoppolo was hurt in the second quarter of that game when he was hit from both sides by Dallas edge rushers Micah Parsons and Randy Gregory. On the play, it appeared the 49ers’ signal-caller attempted to avoid landing on his injured thumb/hand — instead, his right shoulder took the brunt of the impact.

After the game, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo suffered a “slight” sprain and claimed the injury didn’t affect him throughout the game. On the contrary, Garoppolo himself said the shoulder issue “impacted every throw.”

Obviously, Jimmy G is more aware of his pain tolerance than his head coach. Additionally, Garoppolo’s numbers indicate he was limited. In the first half against the Cowboys, he went 11-of-14 passing for 133 yards. In the second half, he completed just 5 of 11 attempts for 39 yards and an interception.

Will Garoppolo play against the Packers?

Garoppolo practiced on a limited basis on Tuesday and is expected to participate again on Wednesday. The fact that’s he practicing at all is a good sign for his availability in the Divisional Round. If the 49ers were truly concerned about Garoppolo’s health, he likely wouldn’t be on the practice field, at least until later in the week. At this point, I’d guess Garoppolo will be able to suit up against the Packers.

If he does play on Saturday, it’s fair to wonder how much his dual injuries will affect his play. Garoppolo told reporters that his shoulder injury and thumb injury are hindering him in an equal fashion. Temperatures are expected to be below 20 degrees in Green Bay at game time, which could further impact his health issues. If his injuries force him to play as poorly against the Packers as he did against in the second half against the Cowboys, the 5.5-point underdog 49ers may not have a chance.

What if Trey Lance has to play?

If Garoppolo can’t face the Packers (or has to be removed from the game), the 49ers would turn to Lance. The third overall pick started two games in relief during the regular season. In Week 5, Lance went 15 of 29 for 192 yards and 1 interception against the Cardinals while rushing 16 times for 89 yards. Against the Texans in Week 16, he completed 16 of 23 attempts for 249 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 pick. In that contest, Lance ran only 8 times for 31 yards.

The 49ers’ game plan with Lance would look a lot different than it will with Garoppolo under center. We’ve seen Green Bay struggle with mobile quarterbacks for what seems like a decade. But in a critical Divisional Round battle, Garoppolo certainly gives San Francisco a better chance of pulling out the victory.

Dallas Robinson is a Writer and News Editor at Pro Football Network. You can read his other work here and follow him on Twitter: @dallasdrobinson.