Jimmy Garoppolo's knee injury leaves 49ers dealing with emotions, loss

Jimmy Garoppolo's knee injury leaves 49ers dealing with emotions, loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 49ers don't have much time to feel sorry for themselves after determining Sunday that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Coach Kyle Shanahan has a 24-hour rule, in which all the emotions from a regular-season game are brushed aside and the team quickly moves on to preparing for the next opponent.

“Win or lose, you have 24 hours to feel some way about it,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said Sunday in the locker room following the 49ers’ 38-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“But we have to regroup. We still have 13 games to go -- at least 13 games. So there’s a lot of football to play.”

But this was no ordinary loss. The team lost its unquestioned leader and a player the organization signed to the richest contract in club history with the belief he eventually could lead the 49ers to a championship.

So, what will the next 24 hours be like after learning that Garoppolo will not be available until the start of the 2019 season and before shifting all attention to facing the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday?

“It’s not going to be fun,” Juszczyk admitted.

Garoppolo sustained the expected torn ACL in his left knee on a non-contact play, as he planted to remain inbounds late in the game and tried to rally the 49ers from a two-touchdown deficit. On a third-and-goal from the 20, Garoppolo scrambled for 13 yards and attempted to cut back inside to gain additional yardage when his knee buckled even before Chiefs defensive back Steven Nelson unloaded a big hit.

Garoppolo stayed down after the hit, and many teammates said they initially believed he had sustained a concussion. But after the first stability tests, it was clear Garoppolo knew it was the worst-case scenario with his knee. He was carted to the 49ers’ locker room, visibly upset with the news he heard from the team’s medical staff.

Many of Garoppolo's teammates checked on him afterward and gave him well-wishes as he sat on a trainer’s table.

“I told him I would be praying for him and that I love him,” 49ers backup quarterback C.J. Beathard said. “He told me to lead these guys.”

Linebacker Reuben Foster also expressed his support when he briefly visited with Garoppolo.

“I just see it in his face,” Foster said of Garoppolo’s dejection. “I was like, ‘Hey, brother, we got you. You just sit down and heal. We’re going to fight for you, no matter what.’ ”

[RATTO: Don't start with 'next man up']

The 49ers finished last season on a five-game winning streak after Garoppolo took over as their starting quarterback. In his short time with the team last season after the trade from the Patriots for a second-round draft pick, Garoppolo convinced 49ers management that he was a franchise quarterback.

The 49ers signed Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract. And, now, the 49ers must find a way to carry on without any contributions from the player who gave the team hope that it could compete for a playoff spot.

“It’s going to be a bummer with Jimmy,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said.

Shanahan said the team must not change its mental approach in light of Garoppolo's devastating injury.

"You show up to work tomorrow, you study the heck out of this film on the plane," Shanahan said. "We’re hard on ourselves. We’ll show up tomorrow. We’ll all be men about it. We’ll grade the tape hard. See what we did good, what we did bad.

"And when we show up Wednesday, it’s time to go. It’s part of the NFL season. That’s what you have to do. We all feel for Jimmy, there’s no doubt about it. We dealt with this with our running back (Jerick McKinnon) two days before the season started, too. So this is part of the NFL. We’re not the first team this has happened to, so it's next guy up."

The loss of Garoppolo was felt on both sides of the ball. Foster said Garoppolo was a leader for even the players on defense.

“That’s a heart-drop, seeing an offensive leader like that, a team leader,” Foster said. “He’s just like a defensive leader, too. We got to swallow hard and go into the next phase.

Said veteran nose tackle Earl Mitchell: “We got to have the next-man-up mentality. It’s a long season, and obviously he’s a leader. He’s a guy we look to as a leader. It’s one of those things, but you can’t be too stressed out about it.”


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Where 'The Catch,' 'Immaculate Reception' should stand in NFL history


Where 'The Catch,' 'Immaculate Reception' should stand in NFL history

The Bay Area was on the wrong side of one of the most iconic plays in NFL history, and the right side of another. 

The Raiders remained stuck in the marital party rather than matrimony when Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" gave the upstart Pittsburgh Steelers a 13-7 win over the Silver and Black in the 1972 AFC Divisional Round. The loss in Pittsburgh was coach Jon Madden's third consecutive in the conference playoffs, and the legendary coach would lose three consecutive AFC championships before winning Super Bowl XI -- the Raiders' first. The Steelers would not win the Super Bowl or the year after, but the victory over the Raiders was Chuck Noll's first in the postseason and marked the first of eight straight playoff berths for the team that would define the 1970s. 

Just shy of a decade later, the 49ers kick-started their dynasty with another catch against an iconic franchise. Dwight Clark's 6-yard touchdown reception from Joe Montana, known simply as "The Catch," sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl berth -- and their first of five wins. Clark's game-winning back-of-the-end-zone grab against the Dallas Cowboys has been immortalized with a pair of statues outside Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, and marks the true turning point in San Francisco's dynastic era. 

NFL Media recently ranked "The Immaculate Reception" and "The Catch" No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on its list of 100 greatest plays in NFL history. It's hard to think of two more iconic moments, but is that the right order? Let's examine the case for each play. 

The case for 'The Immaculate Reception'

Is it possible to imagine this play without NFL Films' "Classic Battle" playing underneath or John Facenda's voice? Yet, the iconic shot of Harris catching Terry Bradshaw's ricocheted pass intended for John Fuqua inches before it hit the ground has done nothing to dispel the controversy surrounding the play. 

Officials ultimately determined that the ball deflected off of hard-hitting Raiders safety Jack Tatum and into the arms of Harris following Bradshaw's desperate fourth-and-10 heave, thus making the catch legal. Had they ruled Fuqua only touched it, it would have been an illegal catch on the last play of the game, and the Raiders would have moved on and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. 

Iconic, improbable imagery and an ahead-of-its time officiating controversy? "The Immaculate Reception" really is the NFL bottled down to its essence, containing the perfect combination of components that keep football fans coming back -- with plenty of grievances. 

The case for 'The Catch'

There have been a lot of catches in NFL history, but there is only one "Catch." Well, unless you're a 49ers fan counting Terrell Owens and Vernon Davis' playoff game-winning touchdown grabs as proper sequels. 

"The Catch" has only been aided by time. The 49ers won four more Super Bowls after winning their first two weeks following the win over Tom Landry and the Cowboys. For the rest of his illustrious career, Landry would not win more games (12) than he did in the 1981 season and he would not lose by a closer margin in a playoff game than the one-point defeat in the NFC championship. Had the 49ers not won, it's possible Landry's Cowboys dynasty would have found second life against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, setting off all sorts of hypotheticals over the ensuing decades.

Meanwhile, Joe Montana went on to become one of, if not the most iconic quarterback in NFL history, and "The Catch" tops the list of his iconic moments. His John Candy-inspired game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII and dominant fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles months later are all well and good, but "The Catch" truly is when he -- and Clark -- became legends in the Bay Area and beyond. 

[RELATED: How AB's Raiders-to-Patriots could cost him $29M]


You could flip a coin on these two plays and come up with the right answer. But for our money, "The Catch" gets the edge for its impact on NFL history. 

Had "The Immaculate Reception" gone the other way, the Raiders' eventual Super Bowl coronation likely would have had to wait, anyway. The Steelers lost in the 1972 AFC Championship Game to the Miami Dolphins who, as we are reminded each and every season, is the only team in the Super Bowl era to win all of its regular-season and playoff games. The Steelers would also need to wait another two seasons before winning their first Super Bowl. 

"The Catch," meanwhile, truly began the 49ers' reign over the 1980s. If it had gone the other way, does that ever truly begin? Do the Bengals knock off "America's Team" in the ensuing Super Bowl, ending their status as one of the NFL's preeminent sad-sack franchises? If the Cowboys win, does that buy Landry time with Jerry Jones? Does Jones still buy the team? 

Clark's touchdown reception marked a turning point for the 49ers and the rest of the NFL. For that reason, "The Catch" gets the narrow edge. 

49ers injury report: Game-time decision if Dee Ford will play vs. Steelers


49ers injury report: Game-time decision if Dee Ford will play vs. Steelers

Defensive end Dee Ford is feeling better after sitting out the second half of the 49ers’ game last week against the Cincinnati Bengals with discomfort in his knee and quadriceps, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

“Hopefully, he’ll be feeling good on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “He said he felt good. He looked good walking through. But I know that’ll go all the way up to Sunday.”

Ford, who is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, sat out practices Wednesday and Thursday. He was scheduled to take part in limited practice on Friday, but the 49ers dialed back their planned practice to a walk-through at their Santa Clara facility because of the high intensity of the practices earlier in the week.

“I know he’s feeling better now than he has the last few days, but he’s still not fully there, yet,” Shanahan said of Ford. “We’ll see how these last 48 hours go. Hopefully, they go well. If it does, I know he feels confident to go out there, especially with time off the following week.”

The 49ers face the Steelers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. After the game, the club will have a bye week before returning to action on Monday, Oct. 7, against the Cleveland Browns.

Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa (ankle), and safeties Jaquiski Tartt (toe) and Jimmie Ward (hand) are also listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Bosa and Tartt are expected to play, while Ward is likely to miss his third consecutive game to open the season.

Shanahan said he expects rookie wide receiver Jalen Hurd to be available after the bye week. Hurd has sat out five weeks with a back condition.

“He’s on track,” Shanahan said of Hurd. “We’ll see how it is once we get back from the bye week. I know he has a lot of work to do when we all get away from here a little bit for the four days. It’ll be big the work he puts in when we’re away. We expect him to be ready when we get back.”

The 49ers will not have the services of wide receiver Trent Taylor for at least eight weeks after he underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture on his right foot. The bone has healed, Shanahan said, but there were issues with some of the soft tissue around the bone on the outside of his foot that has caused a flareup. Taylor is eligible to return to action on Nov. 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.

[RELATED: 49ers place Taylor on IR, re-sign Young]

The 49ers placed Taylor on injured reserve and signed veteran offensive tackle Sam Young. Shanahan said he does not think Young will be active and in uniform for Sunday’s game.

49ers injury report

RB Tevin Coleman (ankle)
WR Jalen Hurd (back)
OT Joe Staley (leg)
WR Trent Taylor (foot) – injured reserve

DE Dee Ford (quadriceps
S Jaquiski Tartt (toe)
DE Nick Bosa (ankle)
DB Jimmie Ward (hand)

Steelers injury report

FB Roosevelt Nix (knee)
LB Vince Williams (hamstring)
LB Anthony Chickillo (foot)