Despite some optimism earlier in the week, the chances of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo playing on his sprained right ankle this week seem increasingly unlikely.
Niner's trainer Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo won't train on Wednesday and he probably won't be able to train later in the week. That means Backup Nick Mullens will work with the launch unit and most likely will face the New York Giants on Sunday.
"I'll be surprised if Jimmy comes back later in the week," Shanahan said. "I know he's still pulling on it. But Nick is ready to go. … Nick has a lot of playing time with us and 2018 prepared him for moments like this. He always does a good job in the field, and excited to see how he gets his opportunity. "
Garoppolo sustained a sprain in his right ankle while beating the New York Jets last week. He played on it for most of the first half but never returned to the game after half time. On Monday Shanahan had indicated that Garoppolo could play this week because the sprain was not as severe as initially feared.
If Mullens gets the nod as expected, it would be his first start since December 30, 2018. This season, Mullens started the last eight games after Garoppolo sustained an injury to the left end of the ACL in Week 3 and CJ Beathard replaced Week 9 .
In 2018, Mullens threw for 2,277 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passerby rating of 90.8. While he mostly made the Jets game last week, he walked 8-of-11 for 71 yards with an interception to Garoppolo's relief.
"When he was thrown into the fire, he played very well with little practical experience," said Shanahan. "I know our players believe in him and he will be fine."
After 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo beat the Jets on Sunday with a sprained right ankle, he's increasingly unlikely to play the Giants in week 3. Vincent Carchietta / USA TODAY Sports
The question to Mullens: how much of his supporting cast will be available against the Giants? Wednesday's injury report offered some encouraging news on that front.
Shanahan said that George Kittle, who is dealing with a sprained left knee, will be restricted in practice, which likely means he will only do individual exercises and be excluded from team activities. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw (injured thigh) is also expected to be limited. Shanahan said Defensive Tackle D.J. Jones (ankle) is good to go.
In less promising news, Shanahan expressed concern that injuries to Dee Ford (back) and Tevin Coleman (knee sprain) could keep them away and linger this week.
Ford, who was inactive last week after dealing with neck cramps, received further tests on a back injury. Shanahan said Ford is currently receiving treatment but because of the unpredictable nature of back injuries, there is no specific schedule for a return.
"When you're dealing with a back injury, you don't really know the schedule," Shanahan said. "I know he's been on medication this week that we hope will help. But that's a wait and see approach, so look at him every day to see how it goes. I'm sure it is a long way to go (to play this week) but there is no schedule because you have to see how the drug reacts and how it helps. "
Coleman, like Raheem Mostert, has a sprained knee. Shanahan said Coleman's injury is more severe than Mostert's and could put him in an injured reserve later this week.
"I expect Tevin to be out a bit," Shanahan said. "I'm expecting about four weeks so there may be an IR candidate coming back here by the end of the week. He's worse than Raheem."
With Coleman and Mostert almost certain to be eliminated, the Niners will turn to Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. to do the primary return duties. Uncovered rookie JaMycal Hasty could be a candidate to be called off the training team for Sunday after the Niners put one of their "protections" in place on the training team this week.
The 49ers made a handful of squad moves on Wednesday. They put defenders Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas on an injured reserve with torn left ACLs, signed the defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and promoted the defensive end Dion Jordan from the training team to the active squad.
Meanwhile, the team is waiting for news from the league and the NFL Players Association regarding their concerns over the playing surface at MetLife Stadium, where they sustained six lower body injuries against the Jets last week and will be playing the Giants again this week .
"The NFL and NFLPA have people watching it right now," Shanahan said. "So let's move on. If they don't find anything, you go out and play. Other people tore up their ACLs last week in this league and they weren't all on turf so you know how we felt we'll see what the pros say and hopefully we'll learn something. "