49ers

How long Brees, other QBs were out with Jimmy G-like torn UCL

49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo reportedly has suffered a significant injury in his right thumb, with multiple reports indicating the 49ers quarterback has a torn ligament and fracture. Based on similar injuries to NFL and college quarterbacks in recent years, it would be a surprise if Garoppolo did not miss at least a few weeks of what is a pivotal upcoming stretch of games for the 49ers.

Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford are the two most high-profile recent examples of quarterbacks that suffered similar injuries to the thumb on their throwing hand.

Stafford told the Detroit Free Press' Mitch Albom in February 2021 that he played through a partially torn UCL in his throwing thumb during his final season with the Detroit Lions. Stafford told Albom he also dealt with a number of other injuries across his body, and The Athletic's Jordan Rodrigue reported during the offseason that Stafford had a "minor" procedure on his throwing hand in March 2021, citing league sources.

While the now-Los Angeles Rams quarterback was able to tough it out, several other NFL and high-level college quarterbacks were not so lucky with similar injuries.

Brees suffered a torn ligament in his thumb in Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season, and eventually was forced to have surgery that sidelined him for five games. Even when he got back in Week 8, Brees admitted the injury was not fully healed and he had an "internal brace" installed for stability and support, as well as wearing a splint on his right thumb.

 

Back in 2016, former Chicago Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler dealt with ligament damage in his right thumb and reportedly was diagnosed with a thumb sprain. Cutler missed five games for Chicago, although he had previously suffered a major injury in the same thumb earlier in his career.

Spencer Sanders, a highly-touted quarterback at Oklahoma State, also tore the UCL in the thumb on his throwing hand late in the 2019 season. He initially was ruled out for the year after undergoing surgery, but returned over a month later and played in the team's Texas Bowl loss, although Sanders did not attempt a pass.

UCSF Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Nirav Pandya also gave his thoughts on the reported injuries Garoppolo is dealing with, and says to expect around a 5-6 week absence.

RELATED: What Jimmy G missing practice means for Lance, 49ers

The 49ers have two weeks remaining in the regular season, and remain in the thick of the NFC playoff picture.

Rookie Trey Lance likely would start if Garoppolo ends up being forced to miss time, and Shanahan said the team will re-evaluate the QB on Wednesday.

We could see Garoppolo try and tough out the injury, as NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported he will Monday, but Stafford still ended up having surgery in the ensuing offseason.

There is no way to truly compare the severity of Garoppolo's injury compared to the other quarterbacks listed above without examining the medical documentation, but prior cases at least give some idea as to how long the QB could be sidelined.

If the injury indeed is a torn UCL and not the thumb sprain 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan claimed it was on Monday, it does not seem likely Garoppolo will be able to take the field in either of the 49ers' final two regular-season games.

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