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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Garoppolo recovering well from major left knee injury

Thu Apr 18 3:06am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jerick McKinnon

In this Sept. 23, 2018, file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo runs with the ball during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. Garoppolo has resumed throwing and taking drop backs as he rehabilitates from a major knee injury that derailed his first full season as San Francisco's starting quarterback. The process of coming back is going smoothly and Garoppolo hopes to be able to take part in seven-on-seven drills when the 49ers begin OTAs next month and be fully cleared by the time training camp starts in late July. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jimmy Garoppolo has resumed throwing and taking drop backs as he rehabilitates from a major knee injury that derailed his first full season as San Francisco's starting quarterback.

The process of coming back is going smoothly and Garoppolo hopes to be able to take part in seven-on-seven drills when the 49ers begin OTAs next month and be fully cleared by the time training camp starts in late July.

Once the season begins Sept. 8 in the opener at Tampa Bay, Garoppolo believes the only difference will be the brace he will wear on his surgically repaired left knee.

''I wore one initially as a rookie,'' he said. ''Then, I kind of got away from it. I think this year it's a certainty. But, we'll see how it goes down the road.''

Garoppolo said he doesn't believe the brace will impact his mobility a bit since the new ones are so lightweight that it's almost ''like you're not wearing anything sometimes.''

The 49ers are counting on Garoppolo being back to the player he was when they acquired him during the 2017 season from New England and he won his first five starts with the team to end that season.

He was rewarded with a five-year, $137.5 million contract that offseason to be San Francisco's franchise quarterback only to go down with the season-ending ACL injury in a Week 3 loss at Kansas City last season.

''I think initially probably was the hardest part, the acceptance of everything,'' he said. ''The first couple weeks, really, you can't put any weight on it with the meniscus and all that stuff. Probably the first month or two was the worst. But, after that, you get running and everything and you start to feel like yourself again.''

Garoppolo was helped in his rehab by the fact that running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL earlier in September and was a good guide and partner during the process that has continued throughout the offseason.

Garoppolo said it took some time to get the trust back in his knee, but now feels comfortable running and throwing the ball.

''It's encouraging,'' he said. ''Every day gets easier and easier. Able to make this throw better than I was a week ago. It's small victories like that. Throughout the whole process, it's all about small victories because you're not going to jump out and be able to throw it 60, 70 yards again. Small victories.''

Having a healthy Garoppolo and McKinnon will be key this season for the 49ers, who are coming off a 4-12 season in coach Kyle Shanahan's second year with the team.

Shanahan let the players know as they gathered this week for the start of the offseason program that improvement is necessary.

''His big thing was the past couple of years we really needed to get the culture and everything,'' defensive lineman DeForest Buckner said. ''He feels like the culture is here and we have the talent. Now we have to go out and execute. We had setbacks on the way, especially last year. We had big expectations for the team and we didn't achieve those expectations and those goals.''

Buckner was one of the few bright spots for the Niners last season with a career-high 12 sacks. The seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft proved he was a foundation piece for the 49ers.

Now the team will have to start planning on how to keep Buckner. He is eligible for a contract extension this summer if the 49ers want to lock him up long term before he can become a free agent following the 2020 season.

''We had conversations here and there,'' Buckner said. ''It's very early. Just because I'm eligible for a new contract going into my fourth year, it's still very early in the process.''

Player Notes
Tyler Boyd May 23 2:30pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd is coming off a breakout 1,028-yard season and is entering the final year of his rookie contract looking for a long-term contract extension. The 24-year-old doesn't want to leave Cincinnati after generating five games of 90-plus yards in 2018. Boyd is set to make just $981,000 in base salary this year, but he won't hold out this offseason before he gets paid. He is looking at Sterling Shepard's four-year, $41 million deal with $21.3 million guaranteed as a comparison for his skill level. Alongside A.J. Green, who is also entering the final year of his deal, Boyd should be able to be very productive again in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Devonta Freeman May 23 2:30pm ET

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (groin) has looked like his usual explosive self during organized team activities this week. Freeman was a huge bust last year, playing in just two games and carrying the ball 14 times for 68 yards before being shut down for the season. He's still just 27 years old, though, and should see more of a workhorse role in the backfield with Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco. Ito Smith will spell Freeman here and there, but there is bounce-back potential for Freeman if he can stay on the field. He could be a nice value pick as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Paul Perkins May 23 2:24pm ET

New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (pectoral), who missed all of last season, remains on the roster and said he is back to 100 percent health. He will fight for a backup role behind Saquon Barkley with Wayne Gallman and Rod Smith. Perkins, a fifth-round pick in 2016, averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 112 attempts in his rookie season and was named the starter in 2017, although that lasted only four games. I feel really good, Perkins said. Thats probably what makes it even more special, because I feel 100 percent. Body feels good, mind feels good. Perkins can be ignored for fantasy purposes if he makes the final roster.

Ezekiel Ansah May 23 2:20pm ET

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there's a chance that defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) is ready for Week 1, but they won't know for sure until training camp begins. Ansah has always had plenty of pass-rushing potential, but he was never able to capitalize on it in Detroit due to various injuries. The 29-year-old played in only seven games in 2018 and hasn't played in a full season since 2015. Ansah has reached double-digit sack totals twice in his career, but those in IDP leagues will want to see him prove his health first. Seattle is hoping he can fill in for the loss of Frank Clark, who was traded to Kansas City.

Cameron Brate May 23 2:19pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (hip) said he continues to rehab and is on schedule to be ready to practice when training camp starts in two months. Brate is not practicing at organized team activities this week after playing through a hip injury for much of last year. There should be a role for Brate alongside O.J. Howard in Bruce Arians' offense, but Brate's ceiling might be capped as a touchdown-dependent TE2 unless Howard misses time with an injury. The 27-year-old caught 30 passes for 289 yards and six touchdowns last year and has at least six scores in each of the last three seasons.

Kyle Rudolph May 23 2:00pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph confirmed on Wednesday that the team offered him a five-year contract extension, but he has not accepted it. The extension would keep him under contract through his age-35 season in 2024. He is scheduled to make $7.275 million in the final deal of his contract, but none of it is guaranteed and the Vikings are looking to gain salary cap space. Rudolph has been told that other teams are also interested in trading for him. Head coach Mike Zimmer believes that Rudolph will remain with the team, but Minnesota also drafted tight end Irv Smith in the second round, so they have some insurance. Rudolph's 2019 fantasy value will depend on whether he sticks in Minnesota or lands somewhere else, but he's become a touchdown-dependent, low-end TE1 in recent seasons.

From RotoBaller

Devonta Freeman May 23 1:53pm ET

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (knee, groin, foot) is participating in OTAs Thursday, May 23.

Fantasy Spin: Freeman only played in two games last season due to multiple injuries, but is set up to be the main man in the Atlanta backfield with Tevin Coleman now gone. Value him as a low-end RB2 with some upside and also, of course, some injury risk.

Keke Coutee May 23 1:50pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been impressed with wide receiver Keke Coutee and says he is "playing a lot faster." "You never know what hes going to do with the ball in his hands," Watson said. In his rookie season, the 22-year-old Coutee was dogged by a nagging hamstring injury and caught only 28 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown in six regular season games. He should easily be able to top those numbers if he can stay healthy in his sophomore campaign, and Coutee will be in high demand in fantasy drafts in a potent offense under Watson.

From RotoBaller

Amara Darboh May 23 1:40pm ET

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has been impressed with wide receiver Amara Darboh at organized team activities. "Darboh looks great. He's back in the fold now, so he goes right back into the competition of it," Carroll said. Darboh, a 2017 third-round pick, didn't play at all last year due to a knee injury. There are more opportunities in the receiving corps in Seattle now that Doug Baldwin is gone, but Darboh will still be fighting for repetitions with rookie D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, David Moore, Jaron Brown and Malik Turner.

From RotoBaller

JJ Arcega-Whiteside May 23 1:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has seen some time in the slot during organized team activities this week. It helped that Alshon Jeffery wasn't at practice, but it's still notable nonetheless. Arcega-Whiteside should be a weapon for the Eagles in the red zone, but you shouldn't expect him to make an impact in redraft leagues while behind Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor on the depth chart unless an injury occurs.

From RotoBaller

Erik Swoope May 23 1:30pm ET

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent tight end Erik Swoope to an undisclosed deal on Wednesday. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end spent his first five seasons with the Colts. He has made six starts in 24 career games, catching 23 passes for 384 yards (16.7 average) and four touchdowns. He appeared in seven games for the Colts last year (two starts), catching eight passes for 87 yards and a career-high three scores. The Raiders released quarterback Landry Jones in a corresponding move. Oakland has Derek Carrier, Luke Willson, rookie Foster Moreau and Darren Waller on their tight end depth chart, so Swoope could certainly carve out a significant pass-catching role with his new team. He'd strictly be a deep sleeper at tight end in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Gerald McCoy May 23 1:23pm ET

Free-agent DT Gerald McCoy (Buccaneers) has six teams -- the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints -- with some level of interest in him , according to league sources.

Dallas Goedert May 23 1:20pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert stood out in the team's organized team activities on Tuesday and was catching everything thrown his way. The team's top draft pick in 2018 caught 33 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season and has emerged as the team's best blocking tight end. Goedert's goal in the offseason was getting bigger, faster and stronger. He added muscle, reduced fat and feels faster. The Eagles have made it clear that they want to feature him more in the offense in 2019, so Goedert could have more opportunities. Still, it might be a stretch to think that he'll become a TE1 in his second year while having to battle for targets with Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson and the running backs.

From RotoBaller

Richard Sherman May 23 1:10pm ET

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman is feeling back to his old self during organized team activities. Last year at this time, Sherman was recovering from Achilles surgery and wasn't a full participant during the offseason program. He's calling the difference this year "night and day." He managed to play 14 games last year, but he still felt the effects of his Achilles surgery. Sherman also dealt with a calf injury last year, but that's also in the past. The All-Pro cornerback isn't at the level he was in his prime with the Seahawks, but Sherman can still lead this secondary and make plays if he can stay healthy in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Nick Bosa May 23 1:10pm ET

San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa (hamstring) tweaked his hamstring during team drills at organized team activities on Tuesday and watched the rest of the practice from the sideline. It doesn't sound like the injury is too serious, but the Niners will surely play it safe with the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. Bosa does have an extensive injury history much like his brother, so don't be surprised if they keep him out for the rest of OTAs. His presence on the defensive line will immediately boost San Fran's pass rush in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo May 23 1:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (knee) took part in individual 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday in organized team activities but didn't take part in team drills. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that Garoppolo won't be cleared for full team workouts until training camp because the team doesn't want to risk having defenders around the QB's legs. Garoppolo has impressed the coaches and teammates with how well he's moving while wearing a titanium knee brace. The QB tore his ACL on Sept. 23 and missed the final 13 games of last season. He hasn't dealt with swelling in "a long time." Garoppolo has been pleased with his ability to push the ball down the field and is also making strides in the weight room. He'll have QB1 upside if he's fully healthy in 2019, but fantasy owners should probably play it safe and take him as a QB2 with upside.

From RotoBaller

Ndamukong Suh May 23 12:53pm ET

Free-agent DT Ndamukong Suh's pending signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is being delayed by Suh's previously planned trip to France.

Le'Veon Bell May 23 12:43pm ET

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase on Thursday, May 23, called a recent report 'ridiculous' that the Jets will consider trading RB Le'Veon Bell before he played a down with the team.

Fantasy Spin: The offseason headlines surrounding Bell and his new team haven't been the brightest, but perhaps you can be the fantasy GM who takes advantage of other's fears and swoop up the RB1 Bell at an RB2 price.

Tyler Boyd May 23 11:33am ET

Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd is seeking $10 million per season in his next contract.

Fantasy Spin: Boyd is in a prove-it year after he posted a 76-1,028-7 season last year, which was largely missed by star receiver A.J. Green. Boyd is a solid WR3 option in fantasy.

Paul Perkins May 23 10:13am ET

New York Giants RB Paul Perkins (pectoral) said he's back to full health after missing last season with a pectoral injury. He impressed the coaching staff with his work in the first two days of organized team activities.