The worst fears of all San Francisco 49ers fans were confirmed on Monday: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been lost for the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee on Sunday.
The team confirmed the news on Twitter on Monday afternoon.
The 49ers made Garoppolo the highest-paid player in NFL history in February (though the title didn’t remain his for very long) on the strength of his five starts with the team in 2017. And while San Francisco is just 1-2 this year after losing in Kansas City, he’d imbued the franchise and its followers with tremendous hope.
All of that is on pause now.
What now for the Niners?
Without Garoppolo, the Niners will likely turn to second-year backup C.J. Beathard, at least for the short term. A third-round pick out of Iowa in 2017, Beathard already has some experience as a starter, leading the 49ers for five games last season after an injury to veteran Brian Hoyer.
San Francisco was 1-4 in his five starts.
The win was against the New York Giants on Nov. 12, and Beathard had by far his best game, completing three-quarters of his 25 pass attempts for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Beathard told reporters on Sunday that he told Garoppolo he was praying for his teammate’s health; Garoppolo told Beathard “to lead these guys.”
The 6-foot-2 Beathard is a grandson of Bobby Beathard, the longtime former NFL general manager who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
What now for Garoppolo?
As of this writing, there’s no indication that Garoppolo had any damage beyond his ACL, like to his MCL or LCL. With an MCL tear, the typical plan is to let the MCL heal – it doesn’t require surgery – and about a month later comes the reconstruction for the ACL. Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz tore his LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in addition to his ACL last December, which added some time to his recovery.
Assuming Garoppolo’s damage is limited to his ACL and he doesn’t have any setbacks like an infection (as former teammate Tom Brady had after his 2008 ACL surgery), he should be good to go for training camp next year.
Though San Francisco is 1-2, Garoppolo has been playing well, particularly the last two weeks. After a bad showing in Week 1 against Minnesota, when he threw three interceptions, he had two passing touchdowns in each of the last two games, with no picks, and his completion percentage went up considerably over that outing against the Vikings.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Tiger’s win is the greatest comeback in sports history
• White Sox star says what many think about umpire
• Charles Robinson: Latest flag on Packers’ Matthews may be worst yet
• Rams’ Gurley really isn’t a fan of Thursday games