NFL insider Adam Caplan discusses San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, when he might practice again, and what fans can expect when he finally returns to the football field.

NFL insider Adam Caplan, who has worked for Fox Sports, ESPN, and can be heard on Sirius XM radio, joined the "No Huddle Podcast" this week and discussed injured San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo is making progress in his recovery from the torn ACL suffered on September 23 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was seen observing practice without the aid of crutches on Wednesday as the 49ers prepared for Sunday's road matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the first time the quarterback was cleared to observe practice.

Garoppolo ditched the crutches before the 49ers broke for their bye week and could be cleared to be on the sidelines for the team's December 9 matchup against the Denver Broncos, said head coach Kyle Shanahan. Until now, Garoppolo had been limited to observing home games from a Levi's Stadium suite.

These developments are good news for Garoppolo, who is expected to make a full recovery by the start of the 2019 season. Shanahan is even hopeful his quarterback can start throwing the football and taking part in non-contact activities as early as organized team activities.

Both Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were happy with the reports following the surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee.

"It was a good repair, and they're very optimistic about the prognosis for his future," Lynch said in October during a KNBR interview.

"You never know until they open it up," Shanahan said the day after Lynch's injury update. "I know I got the thumbs up on it, so we're excited about that."

Caplan, who has become a bit of an injury expert over the years, is also optimistic about Garoppolo's timeline for return and the reports of a reasonably problem-free surgery.

"That will help him get on the field during OTAs," Caplan told podcast host Al Sacco. "You would assume he's going to be limited, but just getting on the field in the late spring, certainly being 100 percent by summer, it's great."

San Francisco has been 1-6 this year without Garoppolo. The injury derailed a potentially entertaining season. The NFL even scheduled five prime-time games for the 49ers, mostly due to Garoppolo. The league downgraded two of those games to earlier kickoffs.

"Everything that I've been told suggests he'll be able to do everything next year, and boy do they miss him," Caplan continued. "There's no question about it.

"I remember talking to Marquise Goodwin about him, obviously before the injury, and he said [Garoppolo] made him a better football player because Jimmy gets the ball out so quickly. It made him actually be a more precise route runner."

Still, Garoppolo's pre-injury performance didn't live up to the offseason hype that built up following the quarterback's 5-0 run to end last season. It's not to say that Garoppolo played poorly, just that expectations were that last year's momentum might carry into the new season.

Caplan felt that Garoppolo's struggles — if that's what you want to call them — before his injury had a lot to do with Shanahan still becoming comfortable with what his quarterback could do. It was a process that would have resulted in improved play had Garoppolo been able to progress through the season.

"Over time, it's going to get better because you get used to the personnel, and coaches get used to you and what to call," Caplan explained.

Despite some limitations in Garoppolo's game, and the lack of talent on the 49ers' roster, the NFL insider was expecting big things from Garoppolo and Goodwin this year.

"Kyle runs an old-school West Coast offense with stretch elements," Caplan continued. "Jimmy doesn't have the greatest downfield arm, but it's fine. It's good enough. I thought Goodwin and Garoppolo were going to take off this season. Mixed results a little bit this season before he got hurt, but he'll be ok."

You can listen to the latest "No Huddle Podcast" episode above, from our dedicated podcast page, on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

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