Tuesday's good news regarding Jimmy Garoppolo might not be as positive as initially perceived.
Garoppolo's foot injury, which will not require surgery, could still prevent him from returning at any point in 2022, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.
"Still going to be a big recovery," Shanahan told reporters. "There's that way outside chance (of a return) late in the playoffs but just an outside chance. Not real optimistic about it but never rule it out."
Garoppolo avoided ligament damage, leaving open the possibility he could return, depending on how he progresses in rehab. Shanahan sounds as if he's not banking on having Garoppolo available, perhaps guarding his own focus as he prepares his team for the final five weeks of the regular season and a potential playoff run without Garoppolo.
Shanahan also told reporters he feels comfortable with the quarterbacks the 49ers have available, confirming this belief by revealing San Francisco did not put in a claim on recently released quarterback Baker Mayfield, who ended up in Los Angeles with the division-rival Rams. Shanahan's squad will proceed with rookie QB Brock Purdy, who impressed in relief duties following Garoppolo's injury in San Francisco's 33-17 win over Miami on Sunday, and well-traveled veteran Josh Johnson.
Purdy seems to have impressed his teammates as well.
"You would think he's been in the league 15 years," veteran offensive tackle Trent Williams told NFL Network's Bridget Condon on Wednesday. "If you're talking he'll say shut your a-- up. He ain't no timid rookie feeling his way around. He will get on your a--. You would think he's like Peyton Manning or something."
It is telling that San Francisco hasn't yet placed Garoppolo on injured reserve. According to the information currently available, it isn't realistic to think Garoppolo will be able to return in the next month, which would render an IR placement moot. The fact he isn't on IR at this point means the 49ers are leaving all avenues open for any possibility.
After all, Garoppolo's season was essentially finished just 48 hours ago. Now, the 49ers can at least hold out hope he can return eventually, even if it ends up proving unrealistic.