SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Two key components of the San Francisco 49ers‘ starting backfield returned to the fold Wednesday, when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert practiced for the first time since leaving because of injuries in Week 2.
Garoppolo and Mostert practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, and though their status for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins is not yet clear, it was the first and most positive step in the right direction for both players.
Earlier this week, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said he was unsure whether Garoppolo would practice this week, but he wanted to see where Garoppolo was on Wednesday before making that determination. The team held a walkthrough earlier Wednesday that was encouraging enough for Garoppolo to get some reps in practice, and that made Shanahan more optimistic that he could play Sunday.
“He did a good job in walkthrough, and we’ll see how he goes,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to throw him in there today, and that will give me more of an opinion at least.”
Garoppolo has been out since he suffered a high right ankle sprain early in the Week 2 win against the New York Jets. He did not practice either of the past two weeks, and Nick Mullens stepped into the starting job.
Mullens led the 49ers to a win against the New York Giants in Week 3 but struggled last week in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble that led to his benching. C.J. Beathard replaced Mullens and nearly led a last-second comeback against the Eagles.
If Garoppolo is unable to play this week, Shanahan said he has decided who would start in his place, but he doesn’t want to reveal it yet. “I’m going to hold that just because there is a difference between them, and if Jimmy can’t go, I’d like Miami to find that out on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “But I’ve decided that. We’ll get both of them reps because both of them do have to be ready in case Jimmy doesn’t go.”
On Monday, Shanahan indicated that he wasn’t optimistic that Mostert (sprained knee) would be available against the Dolphins, but Mostert at least participated in the practice, which means he is moving closer to a return.
In addition to Garoppolo and Mostert, linebacker Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps), cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) and receivers Dante Pettis (knee) and Trent Taylor (ankle) were limited on Wednesday. Safety Jimmie Ward (wrist), cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (concussion) and cornerback Dontae Johnson (groin) did not participate.
As for cornerback Richard Sherman, who is eligible to return this week from short-term injured reserve because of a strained calf, Shanahan indicated that the Niners are unlikely to open his practice window for at least another week, with an eye toward his playing in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams.
“He was hoping he could get back in practice this week,” Shanahan said. “Just looking at him yesterday and stuff, we’re gonna hold him a little bit longer. I’m hoping he continues to improve, and I’m hoping…
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