Banged-up 49ers move ahead without Garoppolo, Kittle

JOSH DUBOW

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is seeking more opinions to determine whether he will need season-ending surgery on his sprained right ankle.

Garoppolo sustained his second high ankle sprain of the season on Sunday at Seattle and will miss at least four to six weeks as he tries to heal. Coach Kyle Shanahan said surgery is a possibility and that would shut Garoppolo down for the rest of the season.

“He essentially had a whole new one, just on the same foot,” Shanahan said. “When you have those high ankle sprains, you re-injure them a lot. But it was a different way that he did it. So it’s basically doing it all over again in a different way. ... It is worse than the last one. That’s why surgery is an option. We’re getting different doctors’ opinions now. Whatever is best for him long term is obviously what we’ll decide on.”

All-Pro tight end George Kittle is expected to miss the rest of the season with a broken foot that will sideline him for at least eight weeks.

The 49ers will also be without No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel (hamstring), running back Tevin Coleman (knee) and linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (hamstring) for this week’s game against Green Bay.

The Niners have several other key players on injured reserve, including edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, cornerback Richard Sherman, running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. and center Ben Garland. That has derailed the season for the defending NFC champions.

“I can go to our entire roster on who’s not playing and that can be depressing,” Shanahan said. “But then I can go through and mention a lot people who are playing that give you a very good chance to win. We got plenty of guys on our team who can help us win games, and that’s what our guys plan to do.”

This is the second time in three seasons as a starter in San Francisco that Garoppolo will miss significant time with an injury. He went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 in 2018 and now will miss a large part of this season.

The Niners made it to the Super Bowl in Garoppolo’s one full season as the starter, but there remain questions about his long-term status as the starter in San Francisco.

“I’ve got a good idea with Jimmy and what Jimmy’s capable of doing and that’s why he’s been here,” Shanahan said. “People get better when they play more, and that’s why I feel for Jimmy on. One, Jimmy gives us our best chance to win. He’s proven that. It’s hard that he’s not going to be here for at least six weeks, because it’s hard to win without him. Regardless of that, I want Jimmy to play as much as possible because he only gets better from he experience of it. That’s the most frustrating thing.”

Garoppolo’s injury gives Nick Mullens another shot at the starting role. Mullens made two starts earlier this season, throwing for 343 yards and one TD in a win over the Giants and then getting pulled the next week after two fourth-quarter turnovers in a loss to Philadelphia.

Mullens played well Sunday in Seattle after Garoppolo left, throwing for 238 yards and two TDs in the fourth quarter, but the game was out of reach at that point. Now he will run the show for the time being.

“You can’t be a great leader if you’re not making plays,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. I think you just earn guys’ respect by the way you play, by the way you handle your business. I think that’s how it comes first.”

The Niners are also hoping to get tight end Jordan Reed back from injured reserve this week to take Kittle’s place. Reed injured his knee in Week 3, but returned to practice last week. He had 11 catches for 85 yards and two TDs the first three games.

NOTES: The Niners waived 2018 second-round WR Dante Pettis and 2018 seventh-round DL Jullian Taylor. ... WR Richie James Jr. (ankle) and S Jaquiski Tartt (groin) were expected to be limited at practice. ... The Niners made no additional trades before the deadline Tuesday after dealing LB Kwon Alexander to New Orleans on Monday.

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