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.
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has played well to start the year, and they finally have fantasy value in Week 4. The New York Giants look like one of the worst teams in football, and they're dealing with injuries to just about every offensive weapon they have. Lineman Aaron Donald remains one of the most dominant weapons in football, and he's going to have a field day against the interior of New York. This Rams' team can take advantage of the mistakes that quarterback Daniel Jones is going to make, and they could keep the points total extremely low.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Samuel Sloman is a top-10 option in Week 4 behind this offense. This Rams' group looks closer to the one we saw in 2018 when they could move the ball at will against most defenses, and that's going to continue against the New York Giants. The Giants just look brutal right now, and that's great for kickers. Additionally, this is a home game for the Rams, which means that weather will not be an issue inside SoFi Stadium. Behind this high-octane offense, you can safely put Sloman into your lineups this week.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee had a rough go of things in Week 3, but Week 4 is his chance to bounce back. The Giants have done well at defending tight ends early in the season, but they haven't played a player of Higbee's caliber. Higbee scored three touchdowns in Week 2, and I think he gets into the end zone again this week. He gives quarterback Jared Goff a safe option across the middle, and the Giants are dealing with issues at the safety position with multiple injuries to start the year. Higbee is a low-end TE1 in 12-team leagues this week.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green has been targeted in the end zone six times through three games with zero touchdowns.
Fantasy Spin: Green was once one of the premier receivers in the NFL and a fantasy stud, but these days it's uncertain whether he or Tyler Boyd is the No. 1 receiver in the Queen City. He has tumbled into the WR3 or flex fantasy area heading into Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (shoulder) practiced Wednesday, Sept. 30 for the first time since injuring his shoulder in training camp. 'We'll take it day-to-day and know more by the end of the week,' head coach Zac Taylor said.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods had a tough matchup in Week 3, but things get a lot easier in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants don't have a cornerback that can stick with Woods with any consistency, and he's going to have a number of opportunities where he's running wide open. It's rare that Woods as the upside to be a WR1, but this is one of those chances. Woods has shown a good knack for finding the end zone this year, and it will only take some receptions and one big play to give him that WR1 week. He's a safe play again this week.
Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson has a great matchup in Week 4 against the New York Giants. Over the last two weeks, he's averaged over 6.0 yards per carry. His offensive line is opening wide-open lanes for him to hit, and he's blasting through them. In Week 4, he draws the New York Giants who are just getting gashed to start the year. Their strength is defending the run with their front seven, but Henderson is just getting too much work to bench him. As long as he's getting the lead-back duties, he can give you a safe amount of RB2 production every week.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has started the year on a slow pace, but he finally broke through in Week 3 with a 25.7 point performance against the Buffalo Bills. In Week 4, his matchup gets even better against the New York Giants. Their biggest weakness on defense is in the secondary, and they don't have anyone that can keep with Kupp. He has a safe floor as a WR2, but he has a ceiling as a WR1 this week. He gets great volume, and he is a rock-solid option for quarterback Jared Goff. Lock him in this week.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is on a quest for a QB1-level season. He's currently QB9 as things stand, and he has a solid chance to improve that standing in Week 4 against the New York Giants. The Giants were just demolished at home by the San Francisco 49ers with backups starting all over the place. This Rams' offense just scored 28 unanswered points against the Buffalo Bills in one half, and they can do that again this week. Goff is a safe option in Week 4 for leagues with at least 12 teams, and he should give you low-end QB1 production.
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (groin), rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) and defensive end Benson Mayowa (groin) all missed practice on Wednesday. Adams is the top fantasy safety in the game in IDP leagues, but he could be in real danger of missing this Sunday's contest against Miami. The Seahawks Defense has given up a ton of yardage (439.7 passing yards per game) through the first three weeks, but they're on the streaming radar this week with the Dolphins on the docket. However, if Adams and some of their other defenders are forced to sit out, you may want to rethink using Seattle as a one-week play.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Carson is dealing with a minor knee sprain, but he certainly has a chance to face the Dolphins in Week 4 after getting in a limited practice to start the week. However, the oft-injured 26-year-old could be limited this Sunday even if he's active, which will make him a pretty risky fantasy commodity this week. Carlos Hyde is next in line to see more touches if Carson sits out or is limited, with Travis Homer behind Hyde in the pecking order. Fantasy managers should get a better read on how healthy Carson really is after a few more practices.
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert took all of the reps in practice Wednesday, Sept. 30 with QB Tyrod Taylor (lung) not practicing. However, head coach Anthony Lynn has not yet officially named Herbert the starter for Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: If Herbert is tabbed for his third consecutive start, he is only worth a look as a QB2 in fantasy leagues which require two starting signal callers.
The Atlanta Falcons Defense should be well off the starting radar for this week against Green Bay. The ATL defense has been the Achilles heel of this team as they have blown late leads in Weeks 2 and 3. They have allowed 38, 40, and 30 points thus far this season and now face a Green Bay team that has scored close to 40 points each game. There is no reason to trust this defense.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (chest, ribs) and defensive end Joey Bosa (ankle, triceps) both missed practice on Wednesday. The Chargers aren't ruling Taylor out for the Week 4 matchup against the Buccaneers, but this isn't a good start to the week for the QB. He's recovering from a punctured lung that has caused him to miss the last two games, which has led to rookie Justin Herbert getting his first two starts under center. If healthy, Taylor could reclaim the starting gig, but he's nothing more than a low-end QB2 in an offense that would prefer to run the ball. Bosa is a must-start IDP asset when he's healthy, and the Chargers Defense will surely need him if they want to slow Tom Brady down this Sunday.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage is a flex play if he is active this week against the Packers. Gage suffered a head injury in Week 3 which caused him to miss much of the game. It remains unclear whether he will play in Week 4. The 2018 pick put up an impressive first two games before going down in Week 3. He recorded over 100 yards in Week 1 and has seen 12 and nine targets in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. There is a growing rapport between Gage and Matt Ryan, so he is certainly in the flex conversation in what could be a high-scoring game at Lambeau. If Gage plays and Julio Jones doesn't, Gage's value would increase.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is a low-end TE1 for Week 4. Hurst has been hard to figure out on this offense, as he saw eight targets and got 72 yards in Week 2, but only had one reception for one yard in Week 3 when Julio Jones was out and Russell Gage was injured for most of the game. At this point, we don't know which version of Hurst we may get this week, so he can be started as a TE1 in bigger leagues, but there is added risk considering his production could be huge or completely small.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (quadriceps) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Michel has dealt with plenty of injuries so far in his career, so this one is worth watching, but as of right now, he seems like a good bet to play in Week 4 against the Chiefs. Michel ran all over the Raiders in the victory last week, but KC's defensive front will be a much tougher matchup. Consider him as more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex. Edelman is frequently on the injury report with minor injuries but usually plays through them. He was quiet last week in a game in which Rex Burkhead scored three times. The Pats will have to throw the ball to keep up with the Chiefs in this contest, making Edelman a good bet to bounce back as a WR2. The Chiefs are a bit beat up in the secondary as well.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II is an RB2 for the Week 4 clash against the Packers. Though he hasn't been a factor in the receiving game, Gurley has seen no less than 14 carries and 56 rushing yards in a game this season. His role as the lead back is not in peril and as long as he stays healthy, the RB will see decent volume each week. The Packers have allowed the third-most points to fantasy RBs, meaning Gurley has great value for this week.
If active, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones will be an WR1 for this week's showdown against the Packers. The talented wideout was inactive in Week 3 due to a hamstring injury and it remains unclear if he will play this week. If he does, expect him to see his normal volume as Matt Ryan's top target. If he doesn't, bump up the values of Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, and Russell Gage (if he plays).
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that rookie running back Cam Akers (ribs) is considered day-to-day after missing practice on Wednesday. Akers missed the Week 3 loss to the Bills and should be considered highly questionable for the Week 4 matchup against the Giants. Malcolm Brown is also playing through a broken pinkie finger, but it was Darrell Henderson Jr. who stole the show last weekend as the only healthy running back. With other options in this backfield, the Rams can afford to play it cautious with their intriguing rookie back. In a great matchup against the 0-3 Giants, Henderson profiles as an RB2 this weekend if Akers misses another contest. Brown will be a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex.