If the 49ers beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game and advance to Super Bowl LVII, Jimmy Garoppolo could re-enter the picture.
The 31-year-old quarterback remains inactive for the NFC title game, but NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, citing sources, that Garoppolo is “finally at a point where practicing is possible” based on scans of his ankle this week.
Garoppolo sustained a broken left foot during the 49ers' Week 13 win over the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4. Since then, third-string rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has been the new QB1 and hasn't yet experienced defeat.
With Trey Lance and Garoppolo out, the 49ers signed veteran quarterback Josh Johnson to a one-year deal as Purdy’s backup. But the report suggests if the 49ers win and Garoppolo can practice, he could be the new backup.
The original diagnosis put Garoppolo’s recovery at six to seven weeks. This week marked the almost seven-week point of his recovery, and the quarterback was seen working on the side field with team medical staff on Friday for the first time since he was injured.
Garoppolo, who was previously limited to using a knee scooter, was seen walking on his own and has been making steady progress. The 49ers didn't place him on injured reserve because of the possibility of his return in the playoffs.
While Purdy’s performance thus far makes it clear that his role as QB1 won’t change for as long as the 49ers are in the playoffs, many fans wondered if Garoppolo should take over under center after Purdy struggled against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
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As of now, though, that doesn’t seem likely. San Francisco's offense has excelled with Purdy, and his confidence and resilience has spoken volumes in his first seven NFL starts.
But having Garoppolo, who has several years of experience in Shanahan's system, as a reliable backup could be the best second option for the 49ers if they make it to their second Super Bowl in three years.