Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan: Playing Jimmy Garoppolo in second half vs. Dolphins wasn’t worth the risk

Oct 11, 2020 at 5:00 PM--

One of many unpleasant surprises for the San Francisco 49ers in their 43-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday was the performance and health of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was benched for the second half of the game after showing signs of ankle problems during an ineffective showing in the first half.

Garoppolo was cleared last week to start against the Dolphins after missing the previous two weeks due to a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2 against the New York Jets, but his performance in the first half made it obvious his ankle wasn't quite at 100 percent. Garoppolo finished the half with 77 yards and two interceptions on 7-of-17 passing, and given that performance along with the fact that the 49ers were in a 30-7 hole at halftime, head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to sit his starting quarterback in the second half in favor of backup C.J. Beathard.

Shanahan told reporters after the game his decision was made to protect Garoppolo considering how many times he would have had to throw in the second half.

"Just the way the whole game was going, just kind of watching how we were playing as a whole, how he was playing," said Shanahan. "You could tell he was affected by his ankle... I know he doesn't normally throw the ball that way, and I think he was struggling a little bit because of it. The way the game was going, I wasn't going to keep putting him in those positions knowing we were going to have to throw it a lot to come back."

Garoppolo was a limited participant in practice last week on Wednesday and Thursday, then was a full participant on Friday, which is when Shanahan announced the quarterback would return to the starting lineup when the 49ers faced the Dolphins. Shanahan admitted he was caught by surprise at how Garoppolo's ankle reacted against the Dolphins but said the nature of Garoppolo's injury can result in the types of problems he encountered Sunday.

"I knew going into it anytime you have a high ankle sprain it can seem 100 percent better and you get out there and do a couple things and it comes right back," said Shanahan. "That's something that is going to linger. By no means did it keep him from playing today, but I think it hurt him from being at his best. The way the rest of the offense was, the way the whole team was going today, I didn't think it was good to keep him out in the second half with that score and everything, and that he wasn't at his best. That's why it made that decision."

Beathard, who finished 9-of-18 for 91 yards and one touchdown, told reporters Sunday he didn't hear any mention from Garoppolo about his ankle being an issue.

"Jimmy's never one to make excuses, so he never said anything to me or whatever," said Beathard. "Obviously there's some throws there that Jimmy makes if he's healthy, I think for sure."

The 2-3 49ers return to the field next Sunday for a prime time home game against the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams (5:20 p.m. PDT, NBC), which is the first game in a rugged stretch that includes home-and-away games against the Rams and Seattle Seahawks as well as home games against the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills and road games against the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. Beathard would presumably get the starting nod against the Rams if the 49ers decided Garoppolo was unable to go, but there's no doubt the 49ers are hoping to have Garoppolo as close to 100 percent as possible given what they face in the weeks ahead.

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