Kyle Shanahan wouldn't say Wednesday whether Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday for the 49ers against the Miami Dolphins.
But if the decision were up to NBC Sports' NFL analyst Peter King, Garoppolo would be under center at Levi's Stadium this weekend.
Why? Because it's a make-or-break year for Garoppolo and the 49ers, and they need to see what they have in him.
"This is a year that's really, really important for Jimmy Garoppolo," King told 95.7 The Games' "Damon Bruce, Ray Ratto, and Matt Kolsky" on Tuesday (H/T 49ers Web Zone). "Everybody knows that. And this is a year that they need some answers with Jimmy Garoppolo. The only way you're going to be able to see those answers is by him playing football. So, there's not really much to say about that, other than he needs to play."
Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain during the 49ers' Week 2 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. He hasn't played since and just returned to the practice field for limited work on Wednesday.
Shanahan told reporters that he needs to see how Garoppolo comes out of practice this week before making a decision on his status for Sunday.
King believes it's imperative that Garoppolo finds a way to get on the field this Sunday.
"If he doesn't play, if he's in and out and maybe gets hurt one more time, I don't know what you do if you're the 49ers," King continued. "I really don't know what you do. But you need to find some answers with Garoppolo this year, and that's why it's incumbent on him and on the 49ers to make sure that he plays enough this year, that you have, at the very least, a short-term answer for what you want to do at that position."
Nick Mullens initially played well after taking over for Garoppolo, but he struggled in the 49ers' loss to the Eagles last Sunday and was replaced by C.J. Beathard in the fourth quarter. That made the 49ers' quarterback situation even foggier, which is why they need Garoppolo to return.
Shanahan made it clear last weekend that the 49ers are Garoppolo's team, but as King noted, if he can't stay on the field, general manager John Lynch and the 49ers coach might have to look in a different direction.
That's a decision that all parties can worry about in the offseason. For now, the 49ers need to figure out how to get Garoppolo healthy and back on the field. Sitting at 2-2 entering Week 5, Garoppolo gives the 49ers the best chance to make the playoffs and attempt to return to the Super Bowl.