Fri Oct 9 6:39pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right, greets quarterback Nick Mullens during warm-ups before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo will return as starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers this week after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo will start Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins. Shanahan wanted to see how Garoppolo made it through a full week of practice before making his decision.
''Each day he got better,'' Shanahan said Friday. ''Never felt too sore the next day. So, we needed to hear that today and see him out there today and we feel good to go.''
Garoppolo had hoped not to miss any time with the injury, having played through ankle sprains before. But this was a more severe high ankle sprain which made it impossible for him to move well enough to avoid danger in the pocket.
He was able to show he was healthy in practice and will provide a needed spark for the 49ers (2-2), who lost 25-20 at home last week to Philadelphia.
''Ankle is feeling really good right now,'' Garoppolo said. ''Got the last couple of weeks off to get it right. The training staff, I tip my hat to those guys, they did a great job with me, just preparing me and everything. But, as far as getting out there, I mean, we've had the whole week to work on it. So, it's feeling pretty good right now.''
San Francisco has a 20-6 record when Garoppolo starts, compared to a 5-21 mark with any other quarterback since Shanahan arrived in 2017.
Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards and 27 TD passes last season to lead the Niners to 13 wins and was 33 for 49 for 390 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in six quarters this season.
The Niners could have almost all of their key pieces back on offense with running back Raheem Mostert questionable after missing two games with a knee injury and receiver Deebo Samuel questionable with an illness.
Samuel hasn't been allowed at the facility the past two days because he had a fever and aches earlier in the week. Samuel has taken part in meetings and will be allowed back once he passes one more coronavirus test.
Mostert, Samuel, All-Pro tight end George Kittle and first-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk have all missed games this season so the Niners are looking forward to the possibility of having all their important pieces available together for the first time.
''That's exactly how we envisioned it in the offseason,'' fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. ''It's great to finally have everybody healthy and in there together.''
Shanahan also said C.J. Beathard has moved ahead of Nick Mullens on the depth chart and will be Garoppolo's backup Sunday. Mullens played well in his first start this season before getting pulled in last week's loss to Philadelphia after committing three turnovers.
Beathard played well in relief and now will get the first shot if anything happens to Garoppolo.
NOTES: LB Dre Greenlaw will also return after missing two games with a quadriceps injury. ... CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) is questionable for the game, while DE Ezekiel Ansah (biceps), CB Dontae Johnson (groin), CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) and CB K'Waun Williams (knee, hip) are out. ... Ansah and Williams will be placed on IR on Saturday and the Niners will call up at least one more cornerback from the practice squad.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (groin) is moving in the right direction as it pertains suiting up Sunday versus Detroit, as he was a full practice participant Thursday. Leonard has been out of the mix for the past two games due to a groin ailment, but the Colts Defense has still soared out into elite company through its first six games. In the three full contests that he has appeared this season, Leonard already has two double-digit tackle efforts, while also having defended two passes. Having led the NFL in tackles as a rookie in 2018 before being named an All-Pro last year in just 13 games, Leonard's addition to the Colts linebacking core makes them an even more vaunted unit moving forward.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (hand) was limited again at practice Thursday as he works his way back from a hand contusion that kept him out of the team's game Monday. The short week may prove problematic for Higbee, with an early Sunday start time against Miami on the horizon. In his absence, Gerald Everett (illness) secured his first touchdown of 2020, but he has also been tagged as questionable due to an illness. While Higbee has been consistent when on the field, his three-reception, 37-yard average leaves much to be desired from where many fantasy managers thought his production could be. If he does play Sunday, it sounds as if he'll still be nursing the injury, at best. Check back for the final word on his condition over the coming days.
Tennessee Titans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Kristian Fulton (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (illness), OT Dennis Kelly (knee) and C Daniel Munyer (hand) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. S Dane Cruikshank (groin) and CB Tye Smith (shoulder) were limited during practice. DT Jeffery Simmons (non-injury) fully participated in practice.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) was able to practice in full Thursday, an indication that he's ready to play Sunday against Kansas City with no remaining injury concerns. Darnold was able to suit up last Sunday, but it led to a rocky 12-for-23 performance that included two interceptions. While the Jets' offense is incrementally more reliable with Darnold under center as opposed to Joe Flacco, there's still little reason to fade away from the Chiefs Defense in both season-long and DFS formats. New York's offensive line has given Darnold very little time to make much happen in the passing game, making him a difficult QB to roster, even in two-QB leagues. Barring a significant setback, expect Darnold to be the starting signal caller Sunday.
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (quadriceps) and TE Marcedes Lewis (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. OT David Bakhtiari (chest), LB Krys Barnes (biceps, shoulder), LS Hunter Bradley (groin), RB Tyler Ervin (wrist), LB Rashan Gary (ankle), S Raven Greene (oblique), DT Tyler Lancaster (shoulder), TE John Lovett (knee), LB Kamal Martin (knee), S Darnell Savage (quadriceps), LB Preston Smith (shoulder), LB Za'Darius Smith (ankle) and WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) were limited during practice. CB Jaire Alexander (hand, knee) fully participated in practice.
Indianapolis Colts TE Trey Burton (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Burton has been a reliable target for Philip Rivers over the last few weeks and has taken over the starting role. He can be a low-end No. 1 tight end in deeper leagues.
Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle (non-injury) and C Ryan Kelly (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee) was limited during practice. DE Denico Autry (non-injury), S Julian Blackmon (non-injury), DE Justin Houston (non-injury), LB Darius Leonard (groin) and OT Chaz Green (back) fully participated in practice.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (concussion) and linebacker Khalil Mack (ankle) were both unable to suit up for practice Thursday ahead of Sunday's game against New Orleans. Robinson is working his way through the league's concussion protocol, which puts his status for Sunday heavily in jeopardy. Mack, who has been limited during practice for the vast majority of 2020, could be getting some extra rest, but may also be trending in the wrong direction to ultimately suit up. Should Robinson be held out versus the Saints, Anthony Miller would likely become Chicago's premier WR option, while the Saints Defense would also teeter into season-long consideration. If Mack is ultimately held back, the Bears Defense would essentially become a non-roster commodity, especially in light of the difficult matchup against New Orleans' high-octane offense.
Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack (ankle), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (quadriceps) and C Cody Whitehair (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. S Eddie Jackson (knee) and CB Sherrick McManis (hamstring) were limited during practice. OG Rashaad Coward (finger), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (non-injury), TE Cole Kmet (back) and OT Jason Spriggs (back) fully participated in practice.
New York Jets OG Conor McDermott (illness) and S Bradley McDougald (shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. PK Sam Ficken (groin), LB Jordan Jenkins (ribs, shoulder), OT Josh Andrews (shoulder), LB Blake Cashman (hamstring) and OG Alex Lewis (shoulder) were limited during practice. OT Mekhi Becton (shoulder), OT George Fant (knee) and TE Trevon Wesco (hand) fully participated in practice.
Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has a few days to pass his concussion tests, but he is in danger of missing the Week 8 game. Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation because Robinson should be a starting option if he is active for the game.
Chicago Bears TE Jimmy Graham (non-injury) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Graham has been targeted at least five times in each of the last five games but has been held to under 35 yards in each of the last four games. He will have a solid role in the passing game especially if Allen Robinson misses the game and can be a low-end No. 1 tight end.
New York Jets WR Breshad Perriman (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Perriman needs to pass the concussion tests before he is cleared to play, so he may not be able to play in Week 8. Denzel Mims will see more work if Perriman is ruled out but should not be a starting option this week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
New York Jets WR Jamison Crowder (groin) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Crowder appears to have a chance to play this week but could be a game-time decision. He is the team's main option in the passing game and can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option if he plays.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) fully participated in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Darnold struggled in his return last week and may not have his top two receivers on the field in Week 8. He should be avoided in all fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins WR Lynn Bowden (non-injury) and WR Jakeem Grant (illness) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. S Bobby McCain (ankle), CB Jamal Perry (foot), TE Adam Shaheen (shoulder) and LB Kyle Van Noy (foot) were limited during practice. DE Raekwon Davis (shoulder), S Kavon Frazier (shoulder), LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (hand), CB Xavien Howard (knee), CB Byron Jones (Achilles) and DE Shaq Lawson (shoulder) fully participated in practice.
New York Jets RB Frank Gore (hand, non-injury) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Gore usually receives Thursdays off, but fantasy players should see if he is back on the field Friday, Oct. 30. He will continue to receive most of the carries in the running game for now but probably can be avoided in most leagues.
Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett (ankle), LB Jacob Phillips (knee) and OG Wyatt Teller (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29. OT Jack Conklin (knee), DT Larry Ogunjobi (hamstring), C JC Tretter (knee) and CB M.J. Stewart (back) were limited during practice. TE David Njoku (knee) and LB Sione Takitaki (hand) fully participated in practice.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (groin) was limited during practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Parker appears to have a good chance to play in Week 8, but fantasy players will know more about his status in the next few days. He will be working with a new quarterback but should continue to be the main option in the passing game. He can be a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper (abdomen) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is recovering from an appendectomy and probably will miss at least one more week. Harrison Bryant is coming off a two-touchdown performance in place of Hooper last week and could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in deeper leagues.