What Jimmy Garoppolo's potential return means for 49ers' tricky IR situation

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What Jimmy G's potential return means for 49ers' IR situation originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo might not be heading to injured reserve, after all.

The 49ers already have brought back six players off the injured reserve list this season. Teams are allowed to activate a maximum eight players from IR during the course of the season.

San Francisco is keeping the door open for the possible returns of running back Elijah Mitchell and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, both of whom are on injured reserve with knee conditions. Coach Kyle Shanahan said as recently as Sunday that quarterback Trey Lance is not a possibility to return from injured reserve this season.

Garoppolo will not require surgery on his fractured left foot, ESPN reported on Tuesday. The timeline for Garoppolo’s return was placed at seven-to-eight weeks.

Seven weeks from when Garoppolo suffered the injury Sunday would be the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The NFC and AFC championship games are eight weeks away, on Jan. 29. And the Super Bowl is 10 weeks away.

The 49ers would have to advance into the playoffs in order for Mitchell to return to action and make a contribution. He sustained an MCL sprain in his left knee on Nov. 27 that is expected to sideline him six-to-eight weeks.

The team has been a lot more vague about Kinlaw’s return. Kinlaw has not played since Week 3, though Shanahan said last week he believes Kinlaw is “close” to a return.

The 49ers are not in a crunch for roster spots.

The team signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson off the Denver Broncos’ practice squad on Sunday. He took the 53-man roster spot that opened with Mitchell going on injured reserve.

The league’s increase to 16 players on practice squads gives teams a lot of options for practice purposes, too.

RELATED: Mayfield claimed by rival Rams amid 49ers QB speculation

If Mitchell returns to action, he will account for two of the team’s eight return-to-play spots.

The 49ers already have activated Mitchell, free safety Jimmie Ward, linebacker Curtis Robinson, offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, defensive lineman Jordan Willis and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair off IR this season.

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