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49ers begin week with Mullens at QB in place of Garoppolo

Wed Sep 30 6:35pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers began a second straight week of practice with Nick Mullens at quarterback in place of injured starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo missed practice Wednesday with a sprained ankle suffered in Week 2 and his status for Sunday night's game against Philadelphia remains in doubt.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will have to show in practice that he's healthy enough to avoid the pass rush in order to play Sunday.

''Anytime you're dealing with an ankle, you might feel all right when you're standing there, but can you move around and get into the awkward positions without hurting yourself? That's really what we'd have to see,'' Shanahan said. ''It would be tough for us to see that and truly judge that if he didn't get into practice. So, hopefully can get out there for at least one live period and we have those all the way up until Friday. We've just got to see that he's healthy, but that won't be able to happen if we can't get him in practice.''

The Niners did get some good news on the injury front with No. 1 receiver Deebo Samuel having a 21-day practice window open and All-Pro tight end George Kittle being a full participant.

Samuel hasn't practiced all season and was placed on injured reserve with a broken foot suffered in informal offseason workouts. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards and three TDs as a rookie last season and also made big contributions in the running game. He had 14 carries for 159 yards and three scores.

''He's healthy, so we just want to see him out there and get back in the swing of playing football,'' Shanahan said. ''It's been awhile since he has. ... We just need to see him go through three days and what type of shape he's in and if he can protect himself, he'll be out there.''

Kittle missed the past two games with a sprained knee. He is one of the most important pieces to San Francisco's offense as both a dominating run blocker and the team's biggest threat in the passing game.

His 216 catches for 2,945 yards are the most ever for a tight end in his first three NFL seasons.

Having a healthy Kittle and possibly Samuel will be a big boost for whoever starts at quarterback. Mullens showed the dropoff isn't too big when Garoppolo is hurt by throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown in a win last week against the Giants in his first start in nearly 21 months.

Mullens has been very productive when he has played, with his 2,620 yards passing in nine career starts ranking third most at that juncture of a career, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck.

''I think his confidence was definitely up there,'' right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. ''I think this time around, he knew he's had some accomplishments in this game as a starter. He's had success as a starter for our football team. I think it was just getting back to what he does. Nick's as good of a pro as we have in this building. He's always on his preparation. The way that his mind works and the way that he's able to think through the demands of our offense is as good as anybody.''

Despite how well Mullens has played, there's no quarterback controversy. Shanahan said there's no scenario where Mullens could play well enough to supplant a healthy Garoppolo as starter.

''This is Jimmy's team,'' Shanahan said. ''He's done a hell of a job for us and when he's healthy, he'll be playing again for us.''

NOTES: DE Dee Ford (back), LB Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion), RB Raheem Mostert (knee), CB K'Waun Williams (hip) and TE Jordan Reed (knee) didn't practice. ... After several bad snaps on kicks last week, the Niners released long snapper Kyle Nelson and signed Taybor Peper for the role. ... San Francisco also signed TE Daniel Helm from Tampa Bay's practice squad to the active roster. ... LB Mark Nzeocha (quadrieps) was placed on IR. ... The team signed OL Cody Conway and TE Charlie Taumoepeau to the practice squad and released OL William Sweet from the practice squad.

Player Notes
Christian Kirk Sep 30 9:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (groin) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kirk did not play in the Week 3 loss to the Lions, so this is a good start for him as he looks to return to action this Sunday against the Panthers. If Kirk can get the go-ahead for Week 4, he'll return to three-wide sets alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. Andy Isabella, who had a huge game in Week 3, would inevitably see fewer snaps if Kirk returns to the starting lineup. Kirk has just three receptions on nine targets for 57 yards in two games in 2020, so fantasy managers can only consider him a WR4/flex piece in deeper leagues if he's active this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Deebo Samuel Sep 30 9:20pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers opened the practice window for wide receiver Deebo Samuel (foot) on Wednesday, meaning that the receiver will now have three weeks to be removed from Injured Reserve. While Samuel is still a ways away from making his 2020 debut, it's good news for a 49ers team that has been decimated by injuries in the early going on both sides of the ball. The 24-year-old from South Carolina came on in the second half of his rookie season and finished the year as the team's best receiving threat behind tight end George Kittle. Samuel will have WR2 upside whenever he returns. Keep him stashed in all leagues if you have him rostered.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Sep 30 9:10pm ET

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, along with safeties Budda Baker (thumb) and Chris Banjo (hamstring). There hasn't been anything on Hopkins' injury, so the Cardinals may just be playing it safe and giving the veteran some rest early in the week. Nuk should be just fine to face the Panthers in Week 4, where he will continue to be an elite, must-start WR1 for fantasy managers. The 28-year-old All-Pro has gotten off to an excellent start with his new team with 32 catches (37 targets) for 356 yards and one touchdown in three games. Keep running him out there with complete confidence.

From RotoBaller

Wil Lutz Sep 30 7:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz is a solid starting option this week against Detroit. Lutz has been reliable this season, going 6-for-6 in field-goal attempts and 10-for-10 in extra point attempts. Playing on an offense that can generally move the ball, Lutz is a fine starting option against a Lions team that is middle-tier in points allowed to kickers.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Sep 30 6:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is a flex option in Week 4 against a Detroit team allowing the 10th most points to fantasy receivers. Sanders has had a disappointing start with the Saints, only seeing 15 and 18 yards in the first two weeks before finally getting 56 yards and a score in Week 3. The veteran offered an encouraging performance the last time he took the field, but it remains to be seen if that can become consistent. On top of that, the potential return of Michael Thomas would likely decrease his value too. Therefore, he's only a flex at best.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Sep 30 6:50pm ET

If active, New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook would be a low-end TE1 against a Lions team that has been somewhat stingy at covering tight ends. Cook sustained a groin injury in the Week 3 loss to Green Bay and missed practice Wednesday, which doesn't sound too encouraging. If he ultimately cannot suit up, the New Orleans tight ends should be avoided for this week.

From RotoBaller

New Orleans Saints Sep 30 6:50pm ET

The New Orleans Saints Defense is not a viable streaming option this week against the Lions. After a terrific Week 1, this unit has struggled the past two weeks against the Raiders and Packers even with star-studded names playing on this side of the ball for New Orleans. Ultimately, they allowed 34 points in Week 2 and 37 in Week 3. The Lions don't have an explosive offense, but they are certainly capable of putting up numbers with guys like Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, and T.J. Hockenson. It's best to leave this reeling unit on the bench.

From RotoBaller

Latavius Murray Sep 30 6:40pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray is only a low-tier flex option for this week against Detroit. With Alvin Kamara handling RB1 duties on the team, Murray hasn't seen more than 58 rush yards and 19 receiving yards in any contest thus far. He's only worth considering if your team has been hit by injuries or is affected by the Steelers-Titans postponement, but he still wouldn't be a strong option to deliver respectable numbers.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Sep 30 6:40pm ET

If active, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas would be a WR1 in this week's matchup with Detroit. Thomas has been nursing an ankle injury and has missed the past two games. He returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited fashion and it's still uncertain as to whether he will play on Sunday. If he does, he's a starter, and if he doesn't, Tre'Quan Smith is a flex option.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Sep 30 6:30pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a QB2 for this week's matchup against the Lions. The veteran hasn't been the most explosive fantasy option this season and there has also been speculation of his decline. While he's still putting up serviceable numbers, they haven't been consistent. He tossed three touchdowns in Week 3, but managed only one touchdown and one pick in Week 2. As a result, there are better options than Brees for this week, but it's worth noting the Lions offer a favorable matchup for opposing QBs in case you don't have other strong options.

From RotoBaller

Alvin Kamara Sep 30 6:30pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a solid RB1 in this week's clash against the Lions. With Michael Thomas out the past couple of weeks, Kamara has been putting up herculean numbers as his receiving totals have been off the charts. He posted 139 receiving yards in Week 3 and 95 in Week 2. Regardless of whether Thomas returns, the RB's role is too rich on this team and he provides immense value in the rushing and passing game. As the engine of this offense, he's an RB1 against a Detroit squad allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy backs.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Sep 30 4:43pm ET

New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and is listed as questionable for Week 4.

Fantasy Spin: Crowder appears to have a chance to play this week, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his official status. Crowder is a reliable receiver when healthy and could be at least a flex option if he plays.

From TheHuddle

Chris Hogan Sep 30 4:43pm ET

New York Jets WR Chris Hogan (knee, ribs) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and is listed as questionable for Week 4.

Fantasy Spin: Hogan could be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation. He likely will be a top-three receiver for the Jets if he plays but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Sep 30 4:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that tight end George Kittle (knee) is a full-go at practice on Wednesday. It means that Kittle should return in Week 4 against the Eagles after missing the last two games. It's perfect timing, too, with Jordan Reed going on Injured Reserve. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) looks set to miss his second straight game this weekend, but Kittle showed good chemistry with backup Nick Mullens in recent seasons and should immediately return to elite TE1 status for Week 4. With San Francisco's offense still pretty beat up by injuries, Kittle should see his fair share of targets in his first game back.

From RotoBaller

Dee Ford Sep 30 4:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) will be placed on Injured Reserve with a neck issue. Ford suffered the injury in Week 1 and hasn't played since. It's unclear how long he'll be out, but he'll be forced to miss at least the next three weeks while on IR. San Francisco's defense has been hurt by injuries early in the 2020 season, most notably with the season-ending injury to star pass-rusher Nick Bosa (knee) in Week 2. Although the 49ers Defense doesn't have as much season-long upside now, they remain a strong starting unit for fantasy managers in a Week 4 matchup against an Eagles Defense that is injured and out of sorts right now.

From RotoBaller

Breshad Perriman Sep 30 4:33pm ET

New York Jets WR Breshad Perriman (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30, and has been ruled out for Week 4.

Fantasy Spin: Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone are the only two Jets receivers that are fully healthy. Berrios is coming off a solid Week 3 performance and could be a flex option in deeper leagues. Malone can be avoided in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Garoppolo Sep 30 4:30pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) is the team's starter over Nick Mullens when he's healthy. Garoppolo missed last week and Mullens threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown against the winless Giants, but the Niners are making it clear that Jimmy G is the starter when he's ready to return. He missed Wednesday's practice, though, making it likely that Mullens will get another start in Week 4 against the Eagles and their shaky secondary. Garoppolo can be a decent QB2 streamer in the right matchups, but it'll help if he gets some of his offensive weapons back from injury. Mullens will be a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues if he gets another start this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Jabrill Peppers Sep 30 4:23pm ET

New York Giants CB Brandon Z. Williams (groin) and S Jabrill Peppers (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30. S Adrian Colbert (quadriceps) and CB Julian Love (ankle, knee) were limited during practice.

From TheHuddle

Desmond Trufant Sep 30 4:13pm ET

Detroit Lions S C.J. Moore (calf) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30. TE Hunter Bryant (hamstring), DE Da'Shawn Hand (chest) and CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) were limited during practice.

From TheHuddle

Nyheim Hines Sep 30 4:13pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim Hines (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Fantasy Spin: Hines had a bounce back performance last week after a disappointing Week 2 game. He will have a role in the running and passing game this week against the Chicago Bears and can be a flex option in deeper leagues.

From TheHuddle