Minutes after the 49ers’ 38-27 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said the team feared that Garoppolo suffered an ACL injury.
Garoppolo’s injury occurred with about 5:35 left in Sunday’s game. On third-and-goal from Kansas City’s 20, Garoppolo felt pressure from Chiefs defensive end Justin Houston on his right side. Garoppolo evaded Houston and scrambled down the left sideline.
After gaining 13 yards, Garoppolo had the choice between stepping out of bounds or staying in and taking a hit from a defender. He took an awkward step near the sideline with his left leg before ramming into Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson at Kansas City’s 7.
“That was, I think, that was his fault,” Houston said. “I pray he’s not hurt and it’s nothing serious, but as a quarterback, you should step out of bounds. It’s only an inch. An inch [gained] wouldn’t have made a difference. You got the yardage you need, you step out of bounds. You’ve got to be smart, think about your team.”
Garoppolo, 26, crumpled to the ground, where he received medical attention. Eventually, Garoppolo was able to hobble to the sideline, where he sat on the bench and pointed to his left knee as the Niners’ medical staff surrounded him. He then entered the blue medical tent, with C.J. Beathard replacing him.
Before the injury, Garoppolo was 20-of-30 for 251 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 114.7.
Tom Brady, the man Garoppolo backed up in New England before he was traded to the 49ers last season, sympathized with his injured former teammate.
“It’s a tough injury. I feel bad for Jimmy … it sucks,” Brady told WEEI on Monday. “You hate to see someone go down, someone I really like and have been friends with since the day he got here.”
Brady suffered his own ACL tear in Week 1 of the 2008 season while also playing against the Chiefs.
According to Shanahan, the plan is to move forward with Beathard as the starter. On the play after Garoppolo’s injury, Beathard hit Kittle for a would-be touchdown, though it was erased by an offensive pass interference call against the Niners.
Beathard did not attempt a pass that counted in Sunday’s game, though he did start five games as a rookie last season, including San Francisco’s first win of the season against the New York Giants. In seven games prior to Sunday’s loss, Beathard completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,430 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 69.2.
“I have got a lot of confidence in C.J.,” Shanahan said. “He came in today, made a helluva throw on that fourth down. No hesitation. C.J. is a gamer. Everyone in here has a ton of respect for C.J., how he handles himself. He’s a man out there, and he’s a very good quarterback, and we’re fortunate to have him.”
ESPN’s Nick Wagoner and Mike Reiss contributed to this report.