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.”


Shanahan, 49ers confident in Beathard as QB

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Ratto: “Next man up” is a hard pill to swallow

Will 49ers look for safety help after Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone?

Will 49ers look for safety help after Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone?

One week of 49ers organized team activities is in the books.

Nearly a quarter of the 49ers’ 90-man roster is sidelined by injuries. The good news is that none of the unexpected ailments is expected to keep anyone out of action into the start of the regular season.

Let’s open the 49ers Mailbag to see what’s on the minds of those chiming in on Twitter (click here to follow @MaioccoNBCS):

Will SF be looking to sign another safety (Tre Boston, Eric Berry, etc) since Jimmie Ward got injured? (@Irfannzo)

I do not get that sense.

Here’s something I feel confident about stating: If you believe the 49ers have major weaknesses at the safety positions, the organization disagrees with you.

Jimmie Ward is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks (I’m hearing the 12-week estimate is being ultra-cautious). The 49ers believe, if healthy, Ward is their best defensive back. Period. So if they believe he is going to be ready from this injury in plenty of time for the regular season, then they also believe there is no reason to react.

Of course, this latest injury only adds to the long list of broken bones Ward has experienced since becoming an NFL player. So the 49ers must also be comfortable with the backup.

The backup free safety, Adrian Colbert, was the no-questions-asked starter at that position last year at this time. He did not build on the promising end to his rookie season, and now he figures to be No. 2 on the depth chart.

There is a segment of 49ers fans who are asking about Eric Berry and Earl Thomas. But applying the same reasoning as the drawback to Ward, those players do not make much sense, either. Berry, 30, has missed 29 games the past two seasons due to injuries. Thomas, 30, has missed 19 games the past three years with injuries. Ward, 27, has missed 21 games the past three years.

As for Boston, he is seen as more of a hybrid safety, and not necessarily the kind of player who is a fit for the 49ers’ need. Boston, 26, remains unsigned, and could be heading for his fourth team in four years.

Plus, if the 49ers believe a healthy Ward is better than all the available options – and, yes, that’s what I believe the 49ers believe – then, why would one of those veteran players come to the Bay Area on a one-year contract to be an insurance policy?

Are the 49ers wrong in their assessment of the safety positions? We’ll find out. But I do not believe they feel an urgent need to bring in a veteran – at this time.

Which RB will get the most touches in the regular season? (@EliasMata)

The big question with Jerick McKinnon is whether he will be the same player in his first season back from ACL surgery. It might take him a while. Therefore, Tevin Coleman is most likely to be the back who gets the most touches – both as a runner and a receiver.

Coleman is the clear favorite with the next three players in line, McKinnon, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert, unable to participate in OTAs.

What do the 49ers have for a succession plan for McGlinchey when he replaces Staley? Will we see that in the draft next year? (@TnNinerfan)

Joe Staley enters the final year of his contract. He will be at left tackle for as long as he wants to play – and as long as he continues to play at a high level. Mike McGlinchey moves four spots to this left when Staley steps aside.

By the end of this season, the 49ers should have a good idea whether Shon Coleman or Justin Skule -- or someone else on the team -- can start at right tackle for the future. If the long-term answer is not on the team, they will look toward the 2020 draft.

How worried should we be about Bosa’s injury situation (@ssschreffler)

Nick Bosa sustained a grade-1 right hamstring strain during OTAs on Tuesday. That’s not a big deal at all. Other top defensive rookies, Quinnen Williams (calf) and Josh Allen (knee bruise), are also missing time with their respective teams.

If the 49ers want to get Bosa back on the field for the end of OTAs or the mandatory minicamp, they can do that. My guess is they’ll shut him down, as a precaution, to get him ready for the opening of training camp in late-July.

But when you take into account his history, then I can completely understand the concern. It was Bosa's only real drawback as a draft prospect.

Who do you predict will play more snaps on the defensive line in 2019 between Armstead and Thomas? (@Citizen510)

Arik Armstead is a very good run defender. That’s his forte. Solomon Thomas is still trying to find his niche. I think they will both get a lot of playing time, but my guess is Armtead sees more playing time.

The 49ers’ adjustments on the defensive line should benefit both players. So, ultimately, the 49ers will ride the player who gets hotter as an inside pass rusher in nickel situations.

Matt, who do you think the favorite is to start at SAM now that the 49ers are moving to a more traditional 4-3 front in their 9-wide scheme? (@Chazcast)

Mark Nzeocha lined up at the strong side position with the first team last week during OTAs. But I’ll go with Malcolm Smith as the starter, as long as he’s healthy. The 49ers would not have restructured Smith's contract and brought him back if they viewed him as a backup and special-teams player.

My wife and I take "gamecations" from Santa Fe, NM every year. Which away game do feel is best to go see this season? Unfortunately, we chose Seattle last season. (@ShanoPerez)

OK, now we’re talking. I love this stuff.

First, a word of advice: Make it about more than the game. If your enjoyment of a football trip is based solely on the outcome of a game, there’s a good chance you’re going to come away disappointed.

Seattle is absolutely one of my favorite road trips because the stadium is walking distance from any hotel downtown. Moreover, the restaurants, craft breweries and sites are as good as it gets.

New Orleans is unlike any NFL city in the country. Yes, Bourbon Street is dirty and stinks, but the food is so great. As I see it, New Orleans and Washington are the clear favorites for top 49ers road trips for 2019.

[RELATED: Jimmy G back on the field, expects to be ready for camp]

Ordinarily, Seattle easily ranks ahead of Los Angeles, but that game falls on Week 17 this year. That makes it a crap shoot of what you’ll be getting. Arizona is good, but I dropped it down to last place this year because not a lot of people can get away for a Thursday game.

I also believe the rest of the trip should build up to the game, not the other way around.

49ers' George Kittle rated as top tight end in NFL, per Sporting News

49ers' George Kittle rated as top tight end in NFL, per Sporting News

Who is the best tight end in the NFL?

Well, believe it or not, 49ers GM John Lynch isn't 100 percent confident saying George Kittle deserves that title.

Nevertheless, Sporting News declared the 25-year-old is the best guy in the league at the position -- and there is plenty to back up that statement.

Last season, the Iowa product set the 49ers franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 1,377. He also averaged 15.6 yards per catch, which Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer dubbed as "ridiculous." And he's not wrong. 

Kittle should benefit even more from a full season with Jimmy Garoppolo, who also will have new pass-catching weapons Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd and Jordan Matthews at his disposal. 

[RELATED: 49ers considered Ward's injury history with one-year deal]

Kittle finished his 2018 campaign with 88 receptions, five touchdowns, and well, you know the yardage.