SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was not on the field as the 49ers began practice Thursday, a signal that it is more and more likely rookie Trey Lance will be in the starting lineup for a crucial Week 17 game.
Garoppolo was seen talking with 49ers team physician, Dr. Tim McAdams, on the side of the practice field as his teammates went through warmup drills. Then, Garoppolo went into the team's weight room. Garoppolo was wearing a black wrap on his right thumb area.
Garoppolo sustained a Grade 3 tear of the ulnar collateral ligament on his right thumb in the 49ers' game last Thursday against the Tennessee Titans. On Wednesday, Garoppolo said he had not thrown a pass since the injury.
He did not practice on Wednesday, and is likely to be listed as a non-participant on the 49ers' official injury report later Thursday afternoon.
Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, took all the 49ers' first-team practice reps on Wednesday, and was likely to do the same on Thursday. He has not attempted a pass since he made the start on Oct. 10 against the Arizona Cardinals in a 17-10 defeat.
The 49ers (8-7) face the Houston Texans on Sunday in a crucial game with playoff implications. The 49ers would clinch a playoff spot with back-to-back victories over Houston and the Los Angeles Rams to close out the regular season.
The 49ers could also be assured of a playoff spot with a victory over the Texans and a New Orleans Saints loss to the Carolina Panthers.