SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers aren’t doing much to hold back Jimmy Garoppolo during the preseason following his career-altering knee injury last September.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday Garoppolo will appear in the second and third preseason games against the Broncos and Chiefs, and reiterated the franchise signal caller would sit out the exhibition opener Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Nothing’s mapped out and set in stone yet,” Shanahan said. “We kind of take it day by day with that, but that’s something you’re always thinking about. Definitely planning on going in (preseason games) two and three.”
Garoppolo has been a full go through the first nine training camp practices and hasn’t appeared bothered by his surgically repaired left knee that now features a lightweight brace. He was cleared for full-team drills when training began July 27 after being limited to partial team work throughout the offseason program.
“Jimmy looks great physically,” veteran left tackle Joe Staley told The Bee. “I think he’s shown no signs of anything or thinking about his knee. I think it was the way he approached the offseason, the way he worked really hard of getting his body back. I haven’t seen any kind of hitch in his step or him thinking about it or subconsciously thinking about it. It’s all been, just trying to get better about decision making and understanding completely the offense.”
Garoppolo was asked about his progress after five practices on Aug. 1.
“Pretty good,” he said. “Body’s holding up well. I think we’ve made good strides. I think there’s more that we could work at and everything, but things are coming together.”
It seems likely Garoppolo’s work would be limited to a handful of series in each contest, allowing reserves Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard to continue their battle for the primary backup job. Shanahan has not said whether Mullens or Beathard will start Saturday night’s first exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara.
Shanahan has kept two quarterbacks on the active roster during the past two seasons, though circumstances have led to using three different starting quarterbacks in each. Last season Beathard, a 2017 third-round draft pick, was the first to replace Garoppolo. Then Mullens replaced Beathard in early November when Beathard suffered a hand injury that made it difficult to throw with accuracy.
Mullens, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017, wound up starting the final eight games of the season after completing 73% of his passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a lopsided victory over the Oakland Raiders. He began the season on the practice squad and was elevated following Garoppolo’s injury in Kansas City.
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